By Rich Palzewic, Correspondent
SUAMICO – If the Lady Pirates golf team is to move up in the Fox River Classic Conference standings this season, it will most likely rely on a young newcomer to do so.
According to second-year head coach Jeff Johnsen, freshman Jo Baranczyk could be a top-five finisher at state or better.
“When you have a golfer like Jo on your team, that can do a lot in girls’ golf,” said Johnsen, who also serves as a JV boys’ basketball assistant coach. “The other girls around here see the work she puts in and that motivates them to do the same and get better.
“I told Jo that if a freshman (Piercen Hunt) could win state for the boys, that she can do it, too.”
With no seniors on their roster a year ago, Bay Port tied for sixth in the FRCC with Ashwaubenon. That came on the heels of a last-place finish in 2015, so the Pirates look to take another jump this season with all the main participants returning.
“If you go into the high school and look at the girls’ golf FRCC banner, it’s empty,” Johnsen said. “We have an ambitious goal of winning our first conference title. At the very least, I think we can get in the top three. The girls did a lot of work over the summer and now this fall. We’ve talked openly about our goal.”
Bay Port went from nine golfers in 2016, to 13 this year, but five of those are freshman and three are sophomores.
Baranczyk, whose brother Jed was WIAA state runner-up this past spring, will be in the running for conference player of the year with her play. She spends her summer on the Wisconsin Junior Tour competing with other girls in the state aged 13-18, where she finished fourth in points.
If Bay Port is to get to state as a team, seniors Tori Grimm and Lauren Lemorande, plus junior Courtney Koeberl will need to compliment Baranczyk.
“We made it to sectionals last year when nobody thought we could get that far,” said Johnsen. “That was our goal, so we improved a lot. It’s a big step, but now our goal is team state. At sectionals we finished eighth out of eight last season and you have to be in the top two to make it. If we don’t go as a team, Jo will definitely be looking to go as an individual.”
In the race for the FRCC title, Johnsen noted that Notre Dame and De Pere will be the teams to beat.
Other members of the team are senior Erin Hunter, junior Madison Kosterman, sophomores Maddy Peters, Julia Verboort and Marissa Guyette and freshmen Brittney Koeberl, Myah Balaporia, Greta Marquardt and Cella Bruss.