WEST DES MOINES - Niccole Wolken upped her game and the Bobcats raised the bar, though the ceiling remains higher.
Improving 10 strokes from its dual average last year, the Marshalltown girls' golf team lost its season opener, 167-181, to a veteran West Des Moines Valley team at Willow Creek Golf Course Tuesday.
Wolken fired a career-best two-over 38 on Willow Creek's White Course for medalist honors, finishing one stroke ahead of Valley's Laney Van Scoy. Wolken buried back-to-back birdies on holes No. 4 and 5, while Ashley Harris carded a 44 for MHS. Madison Sogge and Shelby Brennecke shot 49 and 50, respectively, to complete the Bobcats' team score. Natalie Kueny (51) and Kierra Carbajal (60) also represented MHS.
"Niccole played lights out golf," MHS coach Lucas Johnson said. "It's by far the best round of her career and will give her a tremendous amount of confidence going forward knowing she can play with anyone we'll see this year."
The Tigers, who placed fifth at the state meet last year and return their top eight golfers, had all six varsity competitors shoot 49 or better. Dani Duerschmidt (41), Taylor Welsh (43) and Tina Heeren (44) capped Valley's scoring quartet.
"Tee to green, we played really well," Johnson said. "We knew Valley was going to be tough but we competed well."
West Des Moines Valley 167, Marshalltown 181
At West Des Moines
Willow Creek Golf Course, White Course, par 36
Medalist - Niccole Wolken, MHS, 38; Runner-up - Laney Van Scoy, Val, 39
VALLEY (167) - Van Scoy 39, Dani Duerschmidt 41, Taylor Welsh 43, Tina Heeren 44, Sonja Shah 45, Sarah Suh 49.
MARSHALLTOWN (181) - Wolken 38, Ashley Harris 44, Madison Sogge 49, Shelby Brennecke 50, Natalie Kueny 51, Kierra Carbajal 60.
The Bobcats host the Linda Bloom Invite Thursday at American Legion Golf Course. The 12-team invite starts at 10 a.m.