---- — TEUTOPOLIS — The Teutopolis Wooden Shoes lost four of their top six golfers from a 2012 campaign that saw the Shoes advance to sectionals.
Despite the losses of Holly Dust, Celeste Deters, Leah Kremer and Laura Wente, the Shoes bring back a team full of experience.
The five-girl squad includes Haley Giles and Ellie Ruholl, who golfed at sectionals last year. Lea and Katie Thoele make the jump to the top five after golfing last year in exhibition play and Casey Willenborg rejoins the squad after missing last year with an injury.
"We're not really big on numbers, but it only takes four to score," said Teutopolis head coach Andy Fehrenbacher.
The season was up in the air earlier this year, with the Unit 50 Board cutting boys and girls golf as part of budget constraints. But girls golf, along with a number of sports and coaching positions, was brought back by the Teutopolis Sportsbackers.
The Shoes are coming off a 9-9 season, and will be led by the senior Giles.
Behind her is Ruholl, forming a solid one-two punch with Giles and the junior Ruholl. She emerged last year as a solid coaching option for Fehrenbacher.
"She really improved last year quite a bit, we expect her to step up her game quite a bit as well," he said.
Willenborg saw solid time on the links as a freshman, but her injury wiped out the 2012 campaign.
Fehrenbacher said she looks like she hasn't missed a beat, however, and will be part of the Shoes' core.
"Looking for her to have a good fall, she's had some of the lower scores we've had early. She had a really good freshman season," Fehrenbacher said. "Those are the three that have the most experience, and the ones we are counting on."
The group is rounded out by Lea and Katie Thoele, who both played on the Shoes last year as part of the exhibition team.
Despite that, they routinely put up numbers that challenged the top five or six for the Lady Shoes.
"They've definitely been in the mix as some of our top scorers last year," Fehrenbacher said.
After last place's third-place finish at regionals, the Shoes are looking to take the next step. Teutopolis hosted sectionals last year, but didn't have the kind of luck they'd wished for. Massac County won the sectional, and Teutopolis finished in 12th of 12, nearly 30 strokes back of Herrin.
To make the leap, Fehrenbacher knows what it'll take.
"(It's about) consistent play, being able to be strong around the greens, limit our putts, have good approaches to the green," Fehrenbacher said. "If our short game improves, I think the rest will fall into place."
Teutopolis opens its season today, hosting Champaign St. Thomas More at 4 p.m. at Cardinal Golf Course.