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Girls golfers to watch

Mitchell sophomore Megan Van Etten is looking to defend her Sunshine Athletic Conference title this fall.

MIKE PEASE | Times

Mitchell sophomore Megan Van Etten is looking to defend her Sunshine Athletic Conference title this fall.

In recent autumns, local girls golf coaches have come to cringe at the utterance of the Van Etten surname the way football coaches in these parts wince at the mention of a Weatherford or Hambrick.

First, it was two-time state qualifier Emily Van Etten, guiding Mitchell High to Sunshine Athletic Conference titles in 2005 and '06 and perpetuating a program win streak that reached 76 dual matches. In her wake arrived younger sister Megan, a Mustangs junior who hopes to defend her SAC tournament title in October.

Now, the Mustangs — Megan included — welcome the third installment to their golfing dynasty when petite freshman Rebecca Van Etten tees it up for coach Joe Castellano's team.

"She has the same intensity and the same work ethic (as her sisters) and I'll bet she's got a pretty comparable game," said Castellano, who returns three of his top five players from last season's conference championship team. "I've only seen little bits and pieces of it and I'm going to say it's pretty comparable to her sisters."

By contrast, Castellano has observed far more of Megan's golfing chops, honed over the summer by lunch-pail type practice sessions at her home course.

In lieu of extensive competition — she played in only one tournament over the summer — Megan spent five hours a day at Heritage Springs Country Club, devoting an hour each to chipping and putting before breaking out the longer clubs.

"She's not exceptionally long off the tee but she's long enough," Castellano said. "She's accurate, a solid iron player and has a great short game. I think she has all the tools in place to be a consistently good player."

But can she take her younger sister?

"I don't really like to talk about that," Megan said. "She does challenge me though."

Joey Knight, Times staff writer

Five girls to watch

Kim Donato, So., River Ridge

A 2007 region qualifier who could make more noise this postseason if her short game improves.

Bailey Logan, Sr., Gulf

Tied for fourth at last season's 2A, District 12 tournament. For a change, she might have a full team around her.

Lauren Shuford, Jr., Hernando

Last year's Hernando County Athletic Conference champ tied for fourth at the 2A-9 tournament

Megan Van Etten, Jr., Mitchell

Defending Sunshine Athletic Conference champ is the odds-on favorite to retain her title, unless she's eclipsed by …

Rebecca Van Etten, Fr., Mitchell

If her last name's Van Etten, we're banking on her being pretty talented.

Girls golfers to watch 08/22/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 28, 2008 9:11am]
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