Putt-ing in her all

Senior golf player Katie Ruge reflects on golfing career and state tournament

Deeksha Sridher, Staff Writer

Suspense hangs in the air, looming over the golfers as they anticipate the results of the tournament. Tensions are higher than ever for senior Katie Ruge, who is about to discover how her last golf tournament in high school will turn out.

On October 11th and 12th, the Millard North Girls’ Golf team competed at the state tournament in Norfolk, their last competition of the season. After two months of training for four days a week, the players were ready to take on state.

However, this tournament was especially significant for Ruge- it was the last game she would ever play as a part of the team.

“The tournament took place at Norfolk Country Club on October 11th and 12th,” Ruge said. “The first day was the 11th with 18 holes, and the second day was the 12th, with 18 more holes.”

Ruge, as well as the rest of the team, felt especially confident with this tournament. As it was one that was preceded by an invitational that they had won, the girls were anticipating winning the state title this year.

“We had an invitational at Norfolk 3 weeks prior to state, and we really thought that was foreshadowing how state would go as all the best teams were there,” Ruge said. “So when we went to state, that was a momentum booster.”

However, the state tournament didn’t go entirely as the team had expected. Although they were shooting for first place, the team finished out in third place.

“We didn’t perform how we wanted to and I think we were a little disappointed with our finish,” Ruge said. “As a team we got third, and we were one stroke off from second.”

Nevertheless, Ruge looks back at the season with pride, remembering how fun she found it to be.

“It was super fun regardless of how we placed,” Ruge said. “I think overall it was a really fun season.”

Ruge, who has been a competitive golfer since 4th grade, will be heading south to Kansas University next year to further pursue her golf career. Although her time as a golfer at Millard North has come to an end, she is looking forward to expanding her expertise in the coming year.

“I decided on KU for college, and I chose this for the competitiveness and the facilities, and this is just a place where I feel I could progress the most as a player,” Ruge said. “I’m super excited for the fall next year.”

Looking back on her four years as a Mustang golfer, Ruge enjoys seeing how much she has grown.

“It’s definitely been a fun four years and my game has progressed a lot,” Ruge said. “Coach Welte has kept all the stats and it’s really cool to look back at all those. Just seeing how far I’ve come as an individual player and also setting standards for our girls’ golf program has been really cool.”

Ruge has also been a big supporter for the other girls on the team. Junior Erica Lee, who transferred from Burke this past year, sees her as a motivator for herself as well as the team.

“Katie is a lovely person, she was so welcoming and supportive of me coming on the team,” Lee said. “Having such a good golf player on the team is motivation for me to become a good player.”

Lee, who herself began playing golf at the age of 3, sees potential in Katie and is excited to see where her future will guide her.

“I see such a bright future when I see her talent,” Lee said. “I know she pushes herself a lot, and I know she’ll be really successful.”

Coach Eric Welte, who has been training with Ruge ever since she was in 8th grade, remembers how much she impressed him before she began playing for Millard North.

“Before she even stepped foot in Millard North, I already knew she would be one of our best players,” Welte said. “She came in and took over our top spot within a couple of weeks of practice.”

Additionally, Welte didn’t realize this would be Ruge’s last tournament at first. As soon as he did, he recounted how much he values her as a player.

“This year, I was thinking about our team trying to win the tournament, and I didn’t really think about it being Katie’s last round until probably about halfway through the final round,” Welte said. “I definitely tried to hide my emotions because she’s such an outstanding young woman.”

When it comes down to the crux of the matter, Ruge ultimately sees her hard work’s effects as the greatest reward. In doing so, she is able to put in her all when playing her sport.

“I would say my favorite thing about golf is the payoff,” Ruge said. “I love the game, and it’s really fun when I can go out and shoot a low score and have my hard work pay off.”