The Helias Lady Crusaders are jumping right into the deep end at the start of the golf season.
The Lady Crusaders will open the season today, playing in the Camdenton Invitational at the tough Old Kinderhook Golf Course.
"I think I know what to expect out of the top three players," Helias coach Dan Mathes said. "I'm interested in seeing what the other girls will do in a big tournament setting. We're going to get tested right at the start."
Jenna Kosmatka, a junior, is back at the No. 1 spot for the Lady Crusaders for the second straight season. Kosmatka finished 27th at the Class 2 State Tournament last season.
"She's been shooting in the 30s in practice and hopefully she will continue to do that," Mathes said.
Kosmatka had a great summer season. She won the Columbia Junior Tournament title and was a member of the Missouri Junior Team at the Southern States Junior Cup played in Mississippi.
"Jenna played a lot of tournament golf over the summer and that's going to help her," Mathes said. "With her experience, there's nothing that should surprise her."
From tee to green, Kosmatka has all the shots.
"She hits it a long way," Mathes said. "And she's a very good ball-striker, her short game has improved every season."
One part of Kosmatka's game Mathes would like to see some improvement is her consistency.
"She'd play 13 or 14 holes in like three or four over (par), but she would double that total on the other four or five holes," Mathes said. "For her to take the next step forward, she needs to eliminate posting that big number and if the summer is any indication, she's done that."
Lauren Plunkett, a sophomore, will be the No. 2 player for Helias. A sectional qualifier as a freshman, Plunkett has been shooting in the low 40s in practice rounds.
"She has a chance to do well," Mathes said. "If her short game and work around the greens gets just a little bit better, she can go far in the postseason."
Hanna Berendzen, the team's lone senior, is the No. 3 player.
"She's got a John Daly swing," Mathes, who said Berendzen has been just behind Plunkett in scoring at practice, said. "She makes solid contact."
A handful of players are battling for the No. 4 and 5 spot. Ashton Lorts and Emily Bexten, both sophomores, will play in those spots today. Also in the mix are sophomores Maggie Kehoe and Madeline Gramlich.
Others on the roster include sophomores Natalie Gladbach, Lauren Luebbert, Bailey Veith and Kristin Wade.
Today's tournament is one of only four Helias will play in the regular season.
"I would love to play six tournaments, but if we have somebody who makes it all the way to state, that's six days out of school and when you add other meets, it could be 10 days out of school in the first 30," Mathes said. "And we can't miss that much school. Academics are taking a priority, which it should."
Other tournaments include the Helias Invitational, the Capital City Invitational and the Sedalia Smith-Cotton Classic.
The Class 2 State Tournament will be held at Meadow Lake Acres Country Club.