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Girls Golf Preview: New SWR team prepares to tee off

Debbie Lutjen has been teaching golf in her physical education classes at Shoreham-Wading River High School for 22 years. The past five years she has pushed for the school to field a girls golf team.

Lutjen’s efforts have reached fruition. This year, for the first time, a Shoreham girls team is hitting the links.

“I just think a new program is great,” Lutjen said. “I’m happy. It’s a new challenge.”

Not only is girls golf new to Shoreham, but golf is also fairly new to some of the players. The notable exception is Natalie Jepson, a junior who played on Shoreham’s boys team her freshman and sophomore years.

“This is an advantage for her because playing on the boys team, she had to play on the same tee as the boys,” Lutjen said. “She’s a strong girl. She hits the ball a good distance.”

Jepson is the no-brainer to play the No. 1 spot.

“The other girls on the team have experience through physical education, some of them in summer camp, some of them play with their parents,” said Lutjen.

Five seniors — Erin Choinski, Grace Daly, Katrina Hanley, Caitlin Kelly and Emelia Pion — make up most of the team along with six juniors, including Jackie Colalillo, Valerie Facini, Morgan Franks, Kara Gately and Julia Green. Sophomore Caroline Morgan and freshmen Abby Bakos, Jacqueline Holden, Gianna Tambasco-Cerbone and Gianna Cacciola are also on the team.

The Wildcats, who will play their home matches on the par-36 front nine of Great Rock Golf Club in Wading River, were initially greeted by snow, sleet and rain. Because of inclement weather, the team had been outside only twice in the 12 days since practice started.

Lujen made the best of it, though, having the team practice putting and chipping in the wrestling room and going over the rules of etiquette.

“The girls are very excited,” she said. “A new program, they’re very excited. Every match we’re going to see improvement. Every practice, we’re going to see improvement.”

Attempts to reach Riverhead coach Steve Failla were not successful prior to the deadline. The Blue Waves went 7-4-1 last year.

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Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River junior Natalie Jepson had played the last two years on the school’s boys team. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)