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For Wilton High girls golf coach Stuart Waack, the impressive thing wasn’t that the Warriors finished 18th at last week’s state championships. It was that they were even there.

Having lost the two golfers who helped put Wilton on the map in its first four years as a program,

Waack assumed there would be some drop-off in 2018.

There wasn’t.

“I fully didn’t expect to get back to states,” said Waack. “We didn’t have any superstars with really low scores. We had a bunch of really solid golfers.”

Over its first four years, Wilton grew from a new program with a handful of players to one that qualified for the state championships two straight years.

But the two players who anchored the Warriors those four seasons — all-state and all-FCIAC golfer NoraNoël Nolan, and all-FCIAC honorable mention golfer Morgan Hickey, graduated in 2017.

This year, the team’s two returning starters, seniors Maya Fazio and Sophia Kammerman, helped Wilton transition successfully to a new era.

“Those two girls (Nolan and Hickey) were the backbone for the first four years. Sophia and Maya were the backbone to bridge them to the initial team. They bridged it for the next four year,” he said. “They team is in good shape.”

The Warriors, playing in the tough conference in the state, equaled last year’s three wins, and their season average of 202 was only five strokes off last year’s team. It was the third best average in Wilton’s five-year history.

Wilton was out of the top 20 of the 50-plus teams in the state going into the final weeks of the season, but finished strong to move up to 18th and qualify for the state tourney.

The Warriors had four of their best scores in their final five matches, shooting an average of 192 over those matches.

Fazio ended her career at states with her best performance, shooting a 93 at Tashua Knolls Country Club in Trumbull to place 36th. It was a 28-stroke drop from what she had averaged at states the previous two years.

Junior Karli Williams shot a 101 to finish 61st and Kammerman and junior GiGi Hill both carded 107s to tie for 81st. Sophomore Madeline Pennino tied for 102nd with a 119.

For the season, Fazio averaged 49.5, with a low round of 41. She averaged 46 over the last four matches.

Kammerman averaged 49.7, with a low of 41. Over the final three matches she averaged 45.

Williams, who earned all-FCIAC honorable mention, led the team with a 48.9 average, with a low round of 39. She averaged 44.5 over the final three matches.

Next year’s team will be anchored by Williams and Pennino, already a two-year starter, who will be next year’s team captains. Hill will be moving out of town, so the Warriors will have three starting spots up for grabs.

Waack said he is confident that next year’s team can continue the growth that has hallmarked the program in its first five years, and that more girls will take up the sport, join the team and move up the ranks.

“It’s really fun to see that growth, of becoming varsity players and being a part of the state tournament, and having new players do it every year,” he said.

Waack praised the leadership of this year’s two senior captains, Fazio and Kammerman, for laying the foundation for success, and helping grow the program.

“It’s a credit to them because they connected with the other girls,” he said, also pointing out their steady growth on the golf course.

“Four years ago they were shooting close to 60, and now they’re scoring in the 40s. It’s great for girls golf,” he said. “They may not have been all-state but they’ll be golf citizens the rest of their lives. That’s what it’s all about”