Golf Preview: Youth and optimism flow at Cherry Creek

BOB LIEPA FILE PHOTO | Jackie Hulse, a sophomore, is one of Riverhead's top golfers.

When the Riverhead High School girls golf coach, Steve Failla, says his team is young, he isn’t kidding or exaggerating. The Blue Waves have one freshman and four sophomores in the mix for their upcoming season.

“We’ve got everybody coming back and we’re still very young,” Failla said.

Young enough that Failla’s top two golfers are sophomores. Kaylee Wells and Jackie Hulse, whose improvement and dedication to the sport makes the coach optimistic about the immediate season and for the next three years.

“Kaylee and Jackie have the strongest work ethic,” he said. “It’s evident they feel the sport. Kaylee plays every day in the summer; Jackie is in a league. They’re leaders about work ethic.”

Sophomores Karyn Torre and Erin Kealy are in the mix for starting spots. Catherine Brophy and Corey Gianuzzi and Corin Olivia are the returning juniors and freshman Jill Zaremba is the lone newcomer.

“They’re all really excited about this year,” Failla said.

Aysha Ozyilmaz is the lone senior on the team. “She’s kind of the leader of the crew,” Failla said.

The Blue Waves have 10 girls on the team. “It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” Failla said. “You only play six girls in a match.

“Having that core of 10 is really a good number to have because they get a lot of work.”

The Blue Waves certainly have gotten a lot of work outside in preparation for their season, which has been helped by a relatively warm March. They have been able to work the course at Cherry Creek Golf Links, where they will host Sachem East in their opening match of the season on Thursday.

“There’s no substitute [for] being out on the course,” Failla said. “They’re ready to get it done.

“It’s fair to say we’re very fortunate to play at Cherry Creek. It’s a good course and they’re very supportive of what we’re trying to do.”

That has allowed the Blue Waves to work on their putting.

“The majority of our practices and drills are spent around the green,” Failla said. “It’s the best way to knock off strokes. That’s good advice for all golfers.”

Riverhead’s golf team is in its fifth season, having won twice last year.

“We’re looking to improve on that,” Failla said. “It’s exciting. The future is bright for Riverhead golf.”