Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Monarch’s Carly Gallant takes over as the leader of the Coyotes girls golf team this season.

LAFAYETTE — The Monarch girls golf team has been one of the best in the state for several years running and it has seemingly replaced each graduated stud with another, year after year.

Well, this year is Carly Gallant’s year.

Last year’s top golfer Delaney Elliot, who placed fourth at the Class 5A state tournament, has graduated. Now it falls to Gallant to take the lead heading into the 2017 season.

“We have some big shoes to fill,” Gallant said. “But I really looked up to her and I’m excited to pass on what she passed on to me, and have the chance to mentor the younger girls. Individually, I definitely want to be up there in the league. I just want to finish my senior season with a bang.”

It’s not as though Gallant is coming out of nowhere, though.

As a junior last season, Gallant placed 26th at the state tournament. She shot an 84 on Day 1 and carded an 83 on the second day at CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora. Since then, the Coyotes senior has worked tirelessly to improve her game.

Over the summer, Gallant shot a 78 and tied for sixth at the Optimist Qualifier at Flatirons Golf Course in Boulder on June 16. Her three-birdie round qualified her as the first alternate for the Optimist International Tournament of Champions in Palm Beach Garden, Fla. There, she shot a three-round score of 255.

The Coyotes had a great team last season but their state title hopes were dashed when weather ruined their chances of following a conservative Day 1 with a big second day at the state tournament. With that in mind, year’s Coyotes are hungry for another shot at the state tournament.

“We have a good group of seniors and that’s in the back of all of our minds,” Gallant said. “We’re excited to get out there and make a run for it. Just getting that second day, we’re just really excited to get another shot at it.”

Gallant isn’t alone in her improvement from last season. Getting in offseason extra work at the Sport Stable in Superior, all of the Coyotes are intent on defending their Front Range League title. With seven seniors in the lineup, the Coyotes also figure to be a veteran group.

“Maturity is what we’re hoping is going to pay off for us,” head coach Mike Riley said. “We’re hoping that we’re not going to make the crazy mistakes that are common with young golfers and be able to think our way through each round. This group should be better at removing the emotionality that is often what makes the difference.”

Riley, who has accumulated a number of boys and girls state titles in his tenure at Monarch, said senior Emma Teuton is right behind Gallant and big-hitting senior Liina Neitenbach is coming on strong.

Brad Cochi: or