Tatyana Carlson has been a staple on the Lowry High School girls golf team since her freshman year in 2015.
A season ago, she barely missed out on winning Player of the Year in the Northern 3A, while the Lady Bucks finished third as a team in the state championships.
Since last fall, Carlson has pushed herself to get even better, but she has taken on a bigger role and stepped up as the voice and leader of the Lady Bucks in 2017.
“I felt like I had to step up and be the leader, so everyone had someone to look up to as an experienced golfer,” Carlson said. “I have to show the (new) girls what to and what not to do — like golf etiquette and staying positive.”
Staying positive is something Carlson is working on herself, learning to keep her emotions in check while on the course when things are not going as well as they might.
“I am trying my best to not let things bother me like they did before,” she added. “I think I have done a lot better job of doing that this year. I need to be stronger and show the girls not to let a bad hole bother you and ruin your day.”
As a freshman, Carlson entered into an experienced group of upperclassmen on the Lady Bucks squad. She led the team in scoring average that season and placed 10th as an individual at the state tournament. She repeated that feat in 2016.
Graduation took its toll on Lowry’s golf team. Carlson and Hannah Havens were the only returning players this fall. Havens has also been a part of the squad since her freshman year. Lowry head coach Todd Milton did not know if Lowry was going to be able to fill a full team at the start of August. However, freshmen Angelina Martinez and Kaitlyn Hales and junior
Mekenzie Vandemark joined the squad, giving Lowry enough players to compete as a team.
“I honestly did not know if we were going to have a team,” Milton said. “All my energy was going to be thrown at Tatyana and Hannah to get them to state as individuals. It has been a pleasant surprise this year. This group of girls have been great and the trips are a blast. Tatyana has stepped up basically as my assistant coach. She takes over when I cannot be there because of my job. She is in a fight for Player of the Year honors and the first thing she is concerned about is her teammates and making them better and wanting to see them improve.”
With three new players, Lowry finds itself in a prime spot to return to the state tournament on Oct. 18-19 in Pahrump. The Lady Bucks are third in the regional standings behind Elko and Spring Creek with four tournaments to play.
“The teams from last year and this year are completely different by all means honestly,” Carlson said. “This year, we are all involved in everything. We do team builders, go to lunch together and we talk about anything and everything. It’s not a difference between upperclassmen and lowerclassmen.”
Last year, Carlson finished fourth at the state tournament, but her play was not to her liking. Since last October, she has made Winnemucca Municipal Golf Course her second home.
“This year I really wanted to golf and set my expectations a little higher,” she said. “That way,I could complete goals I have set for myself. I try to push the girls to get goals for themselves, too. As a captain, I think the girls can look at me as a leader. You are out there playing as an individual, but this really is a team sport. You come together as a team.”
Over the past couple of years, Carlson has battled Elko’s Annika Criss for the top individual spot in the Northern 3A. Criss was the Player of the Year in the Northern 3A last year. However, Carlson stopped short of saying their relationship was a rivalry.
“We go back-and-forth and back and forth,”Carlson said. “We have a good friendship, honestly. We don’t hate each other by any means. We always compliment each other on our games and shots we make. But, we still want to beat each other on the course every time we play. My
goal is to be Player of the Year.”
In the first four tournaments this season, Carlson won two events and Criss two. Criss was victorious on her home course in Elko and a tournament in Truckee in a two-holePlayoff.
“Honestly, it’s between those two,” Milton said.
The coach remarked on Carlson’s dedication to improve herself. “Tatyana has worked on her mental approach a lot. I can still tell by her body language whether she is having a good day or bad day. It is not as pronounced as it was the last couple of years,” Milton said,”The only time she got emotional (this year) was losing the playoff in Truckee.
“But, that is the competitor in her. She was mad she lost. She had it won going into the final
hole. This is my third year with her. She has always had the golfing ability, but I am now seeing a totally different role with her. She has matured as a young lady. She came in as a freshman with a team of dominant personalities. She took what she learned as a freshman and took it and turned into a positive for all the girls. Her consistency has been great this year.”
Even though Carlson is still a junior, she has hopes for a scholarship to play college golf in the future. She wants to major in sports medicine or physical therapy.
“It is rewarding when you see other coaches at Lowry take notice at what Tatyana is doing,” Milton said. “Golf is one of the Lowry sports, but forgotten at times. We don’t play at Lowry and on our own. I can’t tell you how many coaches from the different programs and have complimented Tatyana and her dedication. That tells you everything you need to know about her.”
Tatyana is the granddaughter of Nacho and Dora Villaverde of Superior.
Editor’s note: This story is reprinted with permission from The Humboldt Sun and was written by Tony Erquiaga.