OTTUMWA — Ottumwa head girls golf coach Steph Carroll was hoping her team would be playing their best golf at the end of the season.
Just over two weeks away from hosting the Class 4A, Region 2 Meet at Ottumwa Country Club, Carroll saw her Bulldog golfers put up one of their highest scores in their only home invitational of the year.
Carroll was hoping to see her team make improvements in short order. Just three days later, the Bulldogs showed how quickly they can make those improvements, as Ottumwa had a 175 over nine holes, beating out Highway 34 rival Fairfield by 79 shots Monday afternoon at Cedar Creek Golf Course.
“That’s one of our lowest rounds of the year,” Carroll said. “It’s great to come back out here and play that well after Thursday.”
The Bulldogs had five of its six players on pace to break 100 on Monday just days after being led by two rounds of 95 in the Corky Nydel Invitational. Carroll talked about her team’s motivation to improve on their 390 total Thursday in a third-place showing on the tough country club course.
“We came back on Friday and re-emphasized the importance of trying to compete and improve on your score each time out,” Carroll said.
Senior Kelsey Nickerson certainly took that message to heart. Nickerson followed up her round of 102 on Thursday with a season-best five-over par round of 41, earning meet medalist honors by one stroke over teammate Sarah Stabile.
“The weather was perfect and everything was really working well,” Nickerson said. “My chipping was good and my putting was much better.”
“That’s her best score yet,” Carroll said of Nickerson. “It’s great to be playing your best this late in the season.”
For the Fairfield girls golf team, Monday’s dual against the Bulldogs was another step in a true rebuilding season for the program. First-year head coach Joe Kruzich’s squad put only five players on the course on Monday, with most players spending this season learning a lot about the fundamentals to play the game of golf.
“We’ve got a lot of beginners that are trying to get used to the game,” Kruzich said. “They’re fighting through it and they’re playing as well as they can.”
Ashley Hinkel was the low golfer on the day for the Trojans, firing a round of 60. The loss dropped the rebuilding Trojans to a 3-25 overall record.
“They’ve learned a lot about the game and about taking their time,” Kruzich said. “It’s hard when you have to go back to basics. It’s been one basic thing after another basic thing, but the girls have learned a lot and are starting to come along pretty nicely.”
“We’re all kind of new to this,” Tori Ogden added. “We’re kind of getting used to this game.”
Fairfield will be back on the course today in the Southeast Conference meet in Washington. Ottumwa is back in action at Des Moines against Roosevelt and East in CIML Metro Conference action on Thursday.
“Hopefully, they can take the way they played in a meet like this and take it into each meet the rest of the way,” Carroll said. “Hopefully they can go out there, relax, and come out with this kind of outcome. Any time you can spend a nice afternoon at the golf course and get a victory, you’ve got to like that.
Fairfield-Ottumwa Girls Golf Dual
At Cedar Creek Golf Course
Team scoring — 1. Ottumwa 175, 2. Fairfield 254.
Medalist — Kelsey Nickerson (Ottumwa) 41.
Runner-up — Sarah Stabile (O) 42.
Ottumwa individuals — Nickerson 41, Stabile 42, Darby Patritto 44, Abbie Budan 48, Whitney Dostal 48, Callie Lawson 60.
Fairfield individuals — Ashley Hinkel 60, Haley Williams 63, Rachael Gros 65, Tori Ogden 66, Kristen Terrell 73.
Ottumwa JV individuals — Liz Eaton 65, Camilla Goldadev 71, Brooke Mitchell 71.