Fort Mill Sports

Juniors define Fort Mill, freshmen at Nation Ford

Fort Mill’s Lillian Smith (foreground) and Alexia Van Zanten practice on the driving range at Fort Mill Golf Club. A new season gets underway this week for NaFo and next week for Fort Mill.
Fort Mill’s Lillian Smith (foreground) and Alexia Van Zanten practice on the driving range at Fort Mill Golf Club. A new season gets underway this week for NaFo and next week for Fort Mill.

Both the Fort Mill and Nation Ford high school golf teams are readying themselves for the 2016 girls’ season.

Fort Mill will open its schedule Sept. 1 at Northwestern, while Nation Ford gets underway sooner than that, teeing things up this week at York’s Spring Lake Golf Club.

The Jackets have a young team with only one senior on the squad in Alexia Van Zanten and one freshman. The rest of the team is made up of juniors.

“All the kids have been with us for the most part since they were freshmen,” said Fort Mill head coach Bryan Zulka. “They have all kind of grown into it.”

Fort Mill will have Van Zanten or junior Lillian Smith leading the way as the Jackets’ No. 1 player this season. The Jackets don’t have many tournaments to play in with only one scheduled before the Region IV tournament – the Trojan Invitational at Waterford Golf Club Sept. 30.

The team also has four home matches, but will be trying to get over to Springfield Golf Club as often as possible, which is the site of the region tournament this year. That gives a big advantage to host school Nation Ford, since the Falcons’ home course is Springfield.

“We have a lot of home matches, because people wanted to play us before the region tournament,” said Nation Ford head coach Jaybe Shackleford.

Shackleford said he feels good about his team this year as it features, like Fort Mill, just one senior in Logan James. Zoe Bowers is back this year and should be leading off for the Falcons as their No. 1 golfer. Nation Ford has four freshmen on the team this season.

“I think our scoring average will be down this year because our younger girls are starting to perform,” Shackleford said.

With the region tournament being at Springfield, it gives the Falcons a big home field advantage on Oct. 10, when the meet is scheduled to be held. However, with a new region this year and moving up to the larger 5A class, the leaders of Fort Mill and Nation Ford both feel confident that they can make the Upper State tournament as four of the five teams playing in the region tournament will qualify.

Nation Ford has six home matches and will also be playing in the Trojan Invitational.

Mac Banks: mbanks@comporium.net, @MacBanksFM

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