New Legacy High girls golf coach Mark Glen jokingly worries that a lot of his colleagues might be mad at him this spring.
Many of them, after all, have spent much of their careers trying to build championship teams, while he feels like he's just "been handed the keys to a Porsche" in his high school head coaching debut.
"We have a stacked team, that's for sure," Glen, in his 26th year as an elementary physical education teacher, said this week as practices officially opened for spring sports in the state.
Indeed, the Lightning might have a new leader. But there's no talk of breaking the mold or rebuilding under the new regime.
With three top-50 finishers back from last spring's squad that placed sixth as a team at the Class 5A state tournament, Legacy is looking only at putting the pedal to the metal. The goals begin with no less than a Front Range League title and, if things play out right, maybe even contending at state.
All the optimism begins at the top of the lineup with junior Sarah Hankins, who tied for seventh at state last spring, just four strokes out of first place. But it rolls right on down the list.
Seniors Morgan Stacks (40th) and Morgan Hoos (48th) both had hands in the Lightning's high team finish a year ago. But newcomers like foreign exchange student Lisa From and freshman Jennifer Hankins, Sarah's sister, also figure to weigh
Glen said there will be about six players vying for the squad's four postseason spots by the time May rolls around, and he believes at least his top nine could make the varsity lineups at most schools.
So, yeah, his coaching cohorts might be casting some envious glances Glen's way.
"That's the ultimate goal," Glen said of winning the Front Range League and making noise at state. "If we do things right and take care of practices right, we should set ourselves up for a big season."
Glen, who coached a wide range of sports at the youth level as his kids grew up, has spent the last five years as an assistant with the Legacy boys golf team, for which his son Trevor still plays. With the girls job opening up when Matt Kroupa left to spend more time with his family, Glen jumped at the chance to continue pursuing his passion for the sport.
"I think he's really preparing us to be ready for state the best he can," Sarah Hankins said.
Of course, reaching the team's goals won't come easily.
Defending conference champion Fairview still looms large in the Front Range League, with three top-25 state finishers returning. And state-wise, defending champion Cherry Creek returns its core after blowing away the field a year ago.
But it's clear confidence is brimming in the LHS program, with Sarah Hankins leading the charge as she sets out to win the individual state crown in addition to the team aspirations.
"I'm hoping to win state this year," she said. "That's my goal. It's a high one. But I feel I can take it on and there's a good chance it can happen."
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