Jaycee Ternus and Makenzie Enderlin have spent the better part of the last three summers together.
The duo, the lone seniors on this year’s Scotus Central Catholic girls golf team, have made morning rounds at Quail Run a tradition ever since the game brought them together as teammates three years ago.
Mostly, it was about the golf and the time together. There was once, though, when a stray dog found its way to the course and incited a little more excitement than normal. After several minutes of running around and enjoying the landscape, the dog eventually found its way to a green occupied by the pair.
Ternus sprung into action and grabbed a hold as she saw the owners desperately running her direction. She used a lanyard around her neck to clip to the dog’s collar as a makeshift leash. Both walked the dog back to the now-relieved couple.
It’s not the most comedic tale that’s ever been told about time spent on a golf course, but it’s a memory forever etched into the minds of Ternus and Enderlin. Now as seniors, those memories are becoming fewer and far between.
“I’m sure there’s always going to be times that we’ll meet up again, but yeah, it’s sad,” Ternus said before practice on Thursday afternoon. “Still, there’s a lot of good memories that were made.”
Ternus and Enderlin are the veteran leaders on a Scotus team of 10 looking to make it eight straight trips to the state tournament. Ternus and Enderlin were regular varsity players in the lineup last season for a team of eight that tied for seventh at state.
The Shamrocks as a group have gone every year since 2012 and have had at least one representative every year since 2005. In that span, the top finish was back-to-back runners-up in 2013 and 2014.
Scotus tied with Minden and Grand Island Central Catholic for a state title in 2013 but lost out on the tiebreaker and had to settle for a tie for second.
Enderlin and Ternus were both at state last year, along with twins Alaina and Avery Dierman.
The one departure is 2019 graduate Hannah Allen.
“It hasn’t really hit me quite yet. It’s kind of weird that Jaycee and I are the oldest,” Enderlin said. “We had our last, first practice, that was when it was kind of like, ‘Wow, we’re actually seniors.'”
Enderlin and Ternus will likely find their way back into the five-member varsity lineup due to their talent and abilities. The Diermans and Jaelyn Podolak would seem locks as well, but coach Tanya Niedbalski said nothing is a certainty, even based on past performances.
The best players will be the ones she trusts to play regardless of age or experience.
The team has only played once in the first few days of practice. The rest of the time has been spent on the short game. Niedbalski has until Aug. 30 and a road dual at Norfolk Catholic before she has to decide.
Scotus will play in Columbus four times this season and has 12 dates on the schedule before district play begins in early October.
“I tell all the girls, ‘Every spot is open. Nobody’s got a guaranteed spot,'” Niedbalski said. “My seniors don’t have a guaranteed spot on varsity, anybody can take those spots and play those spots.
“But there’s some hope, if hope is the right word. There’s some play there. The girls just have to have some confidence and believe in themselves.”
That’s a message Niedbalski plans to be firm on in the weeks leading up to the season. She wants her players to go for it and play an attacking style.
“You’ve got to commit to that club you pull out and you’ve got to commit to that shot,” Niedbalski said. “Our goal this year is to be aggressive instead of passive. Last year, we were passive. We played the safe way around the course.
“This year, in the one round we’ve played so far, I went around and made them pull out some clubs and be aggressive. I said, ‘You can’t sit back and be passive and play the safe shot. That’s naturally going to add strokes to your score. The people you’re playing with are playing aggressive.’ So, that’s our focus this year, to attack, rather than sit back and play the safe approach and play the safe round.”
And if that’s not enough pressure to lay on the team, there’s of course the state streak. Enderlin and Ternus don’t want to be remembered as those seniors that allowed it to come to an end.
“We’re just going to try and relax and see what the season brings us,” Enderlin said. “(Getting back to state) worries me, too, because we’ve been to state every year we’ve been on varsity. Especially this last go around, we really want to make it to state.”
Allen was the natural No. 1 a year ago. Enderlin, Ternus or another may develop into that role and fill her shoes, but Niedbalski’s believes its more likely to be a leader by committee each time out.
“I think it’s going to flip flop between the two seniors. Between what I saw the other day and what I’ve seen in the short game, right now I would say it would be between Jaycee and Makenzie to see who feels more comfortable in that spot,” she said. “I always tell the girls, ‘It doesn’t make any difference what position you play, I’ve got to put somebody 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in scoring, and some girls feel more comfortable in the 1 position while others feel more comfortable further down the lineup.
“The two seniors are probably battling, right now, for the top two spots. Everything else is wide open.”
You can bet it will be a friendly battle.
Though life could eventually find Enderlin and Ternus back in Columbus where they can again spend summer mornings together on the course, those days might also be gone forever.
Thus, the next two months have become a farewell tour, of sorts, one that the pairing hopes produces more than just memories of friendship, but memories of achievement, as well.
“You see all the seniors every year and now I’m picturing myself as a senior, it’s a lot to deal with, but I’m excited for it,” Ternus said. “It’s a little bit more pressure than last year, but we all have to carry each other.
“It’s really important for both of us to do well this year.”