Wealth of experience: Jahner, Cooper lead Midgets into season with high expectations
For the past two seasons, Rachel Jahner and Riana Cooper have been the cornerstones of the Dickinson High girls golf team.
At the time, Jahner and Cooper were sophomores. Two years and numerous invitational wins later, Dickinson's Nos. 1 and 2 golfers, respectively, are seniors.
Needless to say, expectations are high. Not only are Jahner and Cooper returning, but the entire team from last year remains intact.
"I'm really excited for this year," Dickinson head coach Sara Berglund said. "After the summer and putting time in, it's kind of exciting. I do have high expectations for us this year. I'm hoping that we can come out, play well and continue to improve every tournament, but I want us to be playing our best golf at the end of the year."
Cooper added: "We should be one of the top teams in the West. We should be a solid team this year. We just need that fourth score to be consistent."
Jahner, who finished runner-up during the 2012 North Dakota Class A state golf tournament, is eager to return to the golf course for her final high school season. She lost in a three-hole playoff to Fargo North's Annie Twells.
"It was disappointing, but it was great experience and I learned a lot," Jahner said. "It taught me to stay relaxed throughout the whole game and don't put too much pressure on yourself. Since this is my last season, I just want to go out, enjoy it and have fun."
The Midgets don't have to wait long to see how the added experience from the 2012 varsity golf season and the 2013 summer is going to propel the team this year.
Dickinson travels to the two-day East-West Classic that begins at noon Monday at the Jamestown Country Club.
The other returning golfers from last year's team are junior Rachel Lantz, eighth-grader Sydney Charchenko, sophomore Katherine Kessel, senior Kesley Yon and eighth-grader Daisia Wallner.
Jahner finished with the lowest average in the state at 79.1, while Cooper was eighth at 83.1. The Midgets, as a team, took runner-up during the West Region tournament.
"It's really nice having those two back with experience and leadership," Berglund said. "They lead by example. They go out and play every day. They work hard in practice and it shows in the tournaments."
Though Jahner made a charge and found herself in the hunt to win the 2012 state tournament, Cooper hasn't had the best luck during the final tournament of the season. As a sophomore, she injured her back and was forced to withdraw from competition. During her junior season, she finished in 14th place.
"It made me very upset that I finished (last) year that bad," Cooper said. "I just want to come back from that and just have a good season overall. It has definitely made me want to work way harder than I did in the past."
Though Cooper and Jahner are teammates, the two are competitive with one another. The duos' ultimate goal is to finish as state champion and runner-up. And they say it doesnt matter who takes the top spot.
"We both look up to each other," Cooper said. "We always hoped to finished No. 1 and No. 2. It's awesome playing with her, because we are two of the top players in the state."
Jahner added: "We want to do the best for either other and we each want to play well. If we would be able to do that, it would help out the entire team."