After winning at least a share of the City League girls golf championship the past 10 seasons, Kapaun Mount Carmel faced the unusual task of rebuilding this season.
The Crusaders lost their top four scorers from a year ago, opening the door for challengers. Bishop Carroll returned its top two scorers, including league champion Madison Murphy.
Through the first two league tournaments though, it again appears as if Kapaun is the class of the City League. The Crusaders won the first league tournament by three strokes and the second by eight strokes.
"We kind of liked the role of the underdog," Kapaun coach Dan Phillips said. "So I played my coachspeak and told the girls what other people thought we were going to be this year."
Kapaun's roster is deceiving. Four of its six players had never played varsity, but those players dominated the junior varsity level a year ago. In fact, more often than not, the Crusaders' JV would have placed in the top three in varsity meets.
"For so long, last year's seniors dominated the City League," Phillips said. "So that's the role this season's team wanted to follow. So far, there have been low expectations and no pressure."
The two golfers that played sparingly on varsity last season are Kapaun's leading scorers this season. Junior Kayla Rathert and Courtney Wells are carrying averages around 44 and Rathert won last week's tournament at MacDonald.
The Crusaders haven't altered their goals for their season.
"What we expect for Kapaun golf hasn't changed just because we have new players," Phillips said. "We want to win the league, win our regional and have a chance at state."
Three's a crowd — State classifications come out later this month and Class 5A could become interesting.
It's possible that Andover, which has won four state titles in the past five years in a smaller classification, is going to make the move up to 5A.
If this happens, then there could be a regional of Andover, Kapaun, and Bishop Carroll. With only two teams qualifying out of a regional, somebody is going to be left out.
"It's going to be interesting how that will play out," Phillips said. "I know our girls would like to have another chance at Andover again."
The Crusaders lost to the Trojans by seven strokes at the season-opening Andover Invitational.