Bobcat girls golf drops one to Valley

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON Marshalltown sophomore Kyra Feldman holds her form after a shot from the third fairway at the American Legion Memorial Golf Course during the Bobcats’ dual loss to West Des Moines Valley on Tuesday.

It was an absolutely perfect day when the Marshalltown girls golf team took the links at the American Legion Golf Course for a dual on Tuesday afternoon, the only problem was the team the Bobcats were facing was arguably the best in the state.

MHS lost its second-straight dual to start the season to visiting West Des Moines Valley, 170-199, but Bobcat head golf coach Lucas Johnson said his girls represented themselves well given the competition.

“Today was probably the nicest day we’ve had all year from a conditions standpoint and from a scoring standpoint, we had very little wind,” Johnson said. “From tee to green I thought our girls played very well, they were getting off the tee box extremely well. We hit a lot of fairways and we put ourselves in position to make a lot of pars as well.”

On Monday in the Tigers’ home 18-hole tournament at Willow Creek Golf Course, Marshalltown finished 73 strokes behind Valley, so losing by just 29 strokes the day after in a nine-hole dual was actually an improvement. Johnson said had his girls taken care of business on the greens, it could have been even closer.

“Some of our chipping and putting wasn’t as spot on as we’d like it to be,” he said. “Our girls are still getting that idea of what it’s going to take to score through the short game. I think a lot of them are fresh enough in their golf careers that they are very focused on what happens on the driving range and less focused on what happens on the putting green and when you are practicing chipping. They will spend a lot of time hitting balls on the range and short-change the putting green in a way that I think we are slowly going to change that mentality.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON Marshalltown freshman Brynn Van Buren pumps her fist after sinking a putt on the third hole at the American Legion Memorial Golf Course during the Bobcats’ home dual against West Des Moines Valley on Tuesday.

Sophomore Kyra Feldman took the top honors for the Bobcats by shooting a 10-over 46, her best nine-hole score of the season so far. She finished her round with a birdie on the par-3 ninth hole, and Johnson said after she shot a 99 on Monday at Willow Creek, Feldman needed to see a good score.

“It was nice to see Kyra Feldman bounce back with a good round, she finished her round with a nice two on No. 9 and got one to roll in there,” he said. “That hole is her friend, it’s her hole-in-one hole too.”

Not far behind was freshman Amber Henson, who took second on the team with a 47 after having the top score the last two meets. Even though Henson was eight strokes behind the 39 she had in the opening dual at the Legion against Waukee, Johnson said she did well to keep her score as low as possible.

“Having those two scores from our top two be in the 40’s is critical for us, and the 3-through-6 spots hopefully will follow suit,” he said. “We are starting to see those spots in the lineup get very close to putting together a round in the 40s too. That 200 threshold is the first spot you look at early in the season, if you can consistently break 200 you know you’re going to be competing in a lot of meets.”

The Bobcats (0-2, 0-2) were able to stay under 200 thanks to solid 53 round turned in by junior Emma Younkin and freshman Norah Wilson. Younkin has been the third scorer for the team the last two meets, as she was third at the Valley Invite on Monday with a career-best 106, and Johnson said her development as a consistent third scorer is crucial to this season’s succes.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“I was really pleased with the way Emma Younkin played yesterday during the second half of her round,” he said. “She came out and it was very windy, she had some pretty rough holes to start with and she was pretty down on herself, but she turned it around on her back nine and I think that continued into today. Her group was out here for three hours to play nine holes, that’s a grind and an awful long time to focus over the course of nine holes, so I am pleased with the way she played.”

Brynn Van Buren was the fifth finisher for MHS with a 55 and Taylor Naughton rounded things out with a 72.

Paige Hoffman was the meet medalist for the Tigers with a 37, while Jenna Krogulski was the runner-up with a 44.

Though the Marshalltown girls haven’t found the win column yet in their two duals, the two teams they’ve faced in Waukee and Valley have been likely the toughest start to the season for any team in the state. Still, Johnson said it’s actually a good experience for his still very young team.

“For our girls to come out and start off their dual season with the defending state champions, then to follow that up against the No. 1 team in the state and a team that totally dominated the field yesterday, it’s good for us long term,” he said. “That lets our young crew see what it takes, this is a team that has multiple Division I college golfers on it so for us to start to see the approach that’s needed is very important.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

The Bobcats will be back out on the course on Thursday for an invitational at Otter Creek Golf Course in Ankeny, starting at 9 a.m.