KEARNEY — There might have been a little frustration from the Kearney High golfers Friday.
They missed a 400 team score by three strokes and a couple golfers said their game just wasn’t totally clicking.
But Kearney High coach Bill Becker is seeing the bigger picture, and that lens is revealing an improving golf team.
The Bearcats finished seventh out of nine teams at the KHS Invitational at Meadowlark Hills Golf Course with a 403 team score.
But it was some individual play from a few golfers that encouraged Becker. Junior Paige Johnson, for example, dropped her score from last season’s event 15 strokes from 114 to 99. Sophomore Katie Werkmeister rebounded from a front-nine 57 to finish with a 107. And freshman Madeline Murray, the team’s low scorer in each of its first three events, continues to learn the high school golf environment. Murray posted a team-low 98 on Friday.
“We have a young team,” Becker said. “What I think is nice is they are all pretty decent, and they will start to compete amongst each other and that will drive them to put in extra time and extra effort. I’m thinking there’s a bright future here.”
Grand Island, one of the state’s top teams, won the eight-team event with a 329 team score. Lincoln Pius X senior Maddie Koenig, last season’s 3rd-place finisher at the Class A state championship, took home the individual title with a 73.
For Koenig, it was a matter of settling in to the round. After an opening hole bogey, she posted two straight birdies, highlighted by a 25-foot putt, to take control.
And she beat the heat, too.
“It wasn’t too long of a course, which was kind of nice,” Koenig said. “I could hit the green in some of the par 5’s. It was really hot, though. It kind of started to get to me with four holes left. I could just see it in my shots, too.”
KHS was playing its first 18-hole event of the season. Any high school event is a new experience for the freshman Murray.
“I’m not used to so many upperclassmen playing with me,” Murray said. “I’m usually used to 14- and 15-year olds playing with me. It was just different and a little bit intimidating.”
Sophomore Kelsey Cobb said she’ll take the 99 score. It’s a sign of improvement.
“It’s good to feel that I’m improving, and that I’ll hopefully keep improving,” Cobb said.
That sort of attitude is what Becker is relying on for the rest of the season. The team returns to action Tuesday in an invitational at Lincoln Pius X.
“They work hard, they are a good group of kids,” Becker said. “They’ll get out this weekend and play a little bit. They will push each other to get better.”
Kearney High Invitational
At Meadowlark Hills Golf Course
Team Standings: Grand Island 329, Papillion 353, Lincoln Pius X 358, Lincoln Southwest 371, Columbus 385, Lincoln Southeast 389, Kearney 403, Norfolk 432, North Platte 437
1, Maddie Koenig, Pius, 73. 2, Tori Peers, GI, 75. 3, Katie Irvin, Papio, 79. 4, Abbie Otto, GI, 79. 5, Ellie Wiltfong, LSW, 80. 6, Samantha Beal, Col., 81. 7, Ellie Walstad, LSE, 84. 8, Leigh Uhing, GI, 87. 9, Sydni Harris, GI, 88. 10, Natalie Wilson, Papio, 88. 11, Allie Vondra, Papio, 89. 12, Abby Bills, GI, 89. 13, Gabby Kunzman, GI, 90. 14, Sally Barie, Pius, 91. 15, Nicole Pauley, Col., 92.
Madeline Murray 98, Kelsey Cobb 99, Paige Johnson 99, Katie Werkmeister 107, Mikala Fitzgerald 128.
At Heritage Hills Golf Course
Team Standings: McCook 349, Minden 403, Holdrege 414, Lexington 472, Ogallala 478, Hershey 520,
1, Megan Vetrovsky, MCC, 69. 2, Breanna Redl, MCC, 81. 3, Maaika Mestl, OGA, 83. 4, Kacee Samway, MCC, 92. 5. Brenna Gnuse, HOL, 92. 6, Paige Kristenson, MIN, 93. 7, Ashton Boldt, MIN, 97. 8, Rebecca Lorens, Dundy CO Stratton, 105. 9, Katlin Taylor, HOL, 105. 10, Paige Garrelts, HOL, 105. 11, Kayla Shullaw, MIN, 106. 12, Hanna Kohl, MCC, 107. 13, Chloe Gonzalez, LEX, 107. 14, Jessica Rehtus, MIN, 107. 15, Payton Zarkowski, Dundy CO Stratton, 109.