Vest one of the best
Marshalltown senior qualifies for second-straight state tourney
Marshalltown senior Kassy Vest was one of the first girls done in the Class 4A Region 3 tournament at the American Legion Memorial Golf Course Monday, finishing her round with a 16-over-par 87.
At the time of her completion, Vest was tied for the second-best round of the day, though there were plenty of girls still left to turn in their cards.
So she had to wait and hope her 87 would hold up.
“It was one of those scores where you think you are going to make it just because the conditions were rough and it was for everyone too, but at the same time I come in and see an 84 and think ‘uh oh,'” Vest said. “That kind of made me nervous, an 87 is not terrible but it’s not great either.
“I was just hoping I made it. It seems like every meet we always have to wait, my group is the first one in and always has to wait, but usually it’s OK because we usually shoot the lowest.”
As the scores came in, a few were lower than Vest’s 87 but more were higher, and it slowly became clear that the Bobcat senior was going to the state tournament for a second-straight year.
Vest finished in fourth place in the regional due to tiebreakers, with only three scores coming in ahead of hers, two from regional champion Cedar Falls.
MHS head coach Lucas Johnson said Vest had to earn her spot in the state tournament and nothing was given to her.
“Kassy today was a grind, it was not an easy round for her,” Johnson said. “When she made the turn at No. 9, I could see her confidence level was not where it normally is. I spent a lot of holes with her on the back nine and she started to calm down as she kept it going.”
Vest shot a 45 on the front nine, and had she repeated that performance for the next nine holes it would have been barely enough to sneak her into state. But all season Vest has shot better on the back nine at the Legion, and she did so again on Monday by turning in a 42.
“I feel like I was hitting it a little bit better, I wasn’t using my driver because the driver has been giving me troubles,” Vest said of the difference between the two nines. “I kind of gave up on that a while back.”
Before the regional even started the girls were dealt a blow, as an overnight downpour took what is already a difficult course and turned it into a soggy battlefield. Vest had dealt with other non-ideal conditions this season, however, so she didn’t let a little rain stop her from qualifying.
“It was OK, it made the rough super thick but other than that it really wasn’t that bad,” she said. “The greens were so hard to judge though, some of them were slow and some were fast. I think I did OK.”
With the qualification, Vest not only gets to play her regional on one of her home courses, she now gets to compete at the 4A state meet at Elmwood Country Club, meaning she can close out her Bobcat career with back-to-back dates at home.
“For a senior to be able to play their last two meets at Legion and Elmwood, you can’t ask for much more than that,” Johnson said. “Ashley Harris did that her senior year, and I think Kassy has some individual goals of her own.”
Vest indeed does have some goals of her own, mainly to improve on last year’s 27th placing at the state meet.
“I am just hoping to place in the top-20, I was 27th last year so that’s my goal. Also to medal if anything,” she said. “It’s pretty cool, it’s at home so we will get a lot of fans out there I hope. Being from Marshalltown that was kind of what I was looking forward to.”
Johnson said Vest is in a good position because she has an advantage playing at Elmwood that goes beyond a good sense of how the course plays.
“That’s a course that fits her game pretty well because Elmwood from the lady’s tees to the men’s tees is very similar,” Johnson said. “She is one of the longest hitters in 4A golf, so it will be a big advantage for her to play Elmwood.”
Of course Vest wasn’t the only Bobcat to play on Monday, and there were plenty of good performances that led Marshalltown to a fourth-place finish with a team score of 386.
Freshman Kyra Feldman was the next-best scorer, carding a 96 in her first regional tournament of her high school career, while senior Ciara Feldman came in with a 99. Senior Emily Hass and sophomores Taylor Naughton and Emma Younkin followed with a 104, 111 and 116 respectively.
“We battled, I was proud of the way the girls played, I thought we played smart in a lot of situations which kept our scores where they were,” Johnson said. “Team-wise we knew it was going to take a special day to qualify as a team and so from that perspective we knew we needed to be super sharp and we didn’t have quite that sharpness early on. Especially around the greens where we gave away a few strokes but that being said the course was tough with the wet conditions and the rough being as long as it was.”
The way Kyra played in particular stood out to Johnson, considering how green the freshman was coming into the year.
“Kyra Feldman shooting in the 40s for both nines is a huge improvement for her, she’s got a tremendously high ceiling and is just getting started with her golf career,” Johnson said. “She had never played 18 holes before this season started, so for her to keep that in perspective and see how far she’s come shows a lot and I can’t wait to see her improve and get better as a golfer over the coming years because she has a lot of talent.”
Ciara also represented herself well, Johnson said, especially considering last time out at the CIML Iowa Conference meet last Thursday she carded a 126 for her worst round of the season.
“Ciara had a really tough day at conference so for her to bounce back and shoot in the 90s today shows a lot of resilience and a lot of toughness from her because she knows this was potentially her last senior meet,” Johnson said. “I am happy to see her go out on a positive note, she gave us two really good years of counting scores.”
The season now draws to a close for the Bobcats, though they will undoubtedly show up well to cheer on Vest at Elmwood next Tuesday and Wednesday. Johnson said it will be tough to replace this current crop of seniors who will be moving on given what they did for the program.
“This crew was sort of one that came together as sophomores that all of a sudden when we had a big graduations of seniors, this crew stepped in,” Johnson said. “Kids like Kassy Vest, Emily Hass, Bella Russell, those girls came together and kind of became the nucleus of the team, and all those girls played a lot of great golf over the three or four years they were on varsity. Hass is a four-year varsity player, Vest is a four-year varsity player, I am really proud of our senior class.”
It would seem, however, that once again there is a new young group of talented players who are ready to step up and take the reigns, led by Kyra, Younkin and Naughton.
“As we start to look toward next year we have Taylor Naughton, Emma Younkin and Kyra Feldman coming back as the three girls who got a lot of great varsity experience this year,” Johnson said. “They know they need to play a lot over the summer because if they put away their clubs now there isn’t going to be a ton of improvement, but those three have told me they are going to play in the summer and I am looking forward to seeing them grow.”
American Legion Memorial Golf Course, par 71
Team Standings — 1. Cedar Falls 344, 2. Southeast Polk 365, 3. Dallas Center-Grimes 381, 4. Marshalltown 386, 5. Newton 402, 6. Mason City 411, 7. Waterloo East 466, 8. Waterloo West 470, 9. Des Moines East 486.
Individual qualifiers (top 8) — 1. Megan Sawer, CF, 79; 2. Amara Lytle, CF, 84; 3. Thea Lunning, MC, 84; 4. Kassy Vest, MHS, 87; 5. Miranda Fickbohm, SEP, 87; 6. Grace Considine, CF, 87; 7. Mary Smith, WW, 89; 8. Alayna Reynolds, Newton, 90.
MARSHALLTOWN (386) — Vest 87, Kyra Feldman 96, Ciara Feldman 99, Emily Hass 104, Taylor Naughton 111, Emma Younkin 116.