After finishing second at last weekend’s Mustang Invitational in Marshall, Minnesota, the women’s golf team is optimistic as it looks ahead.
“Our individuals played pretty well,” junior Sydney Weber said. “We struggled out there on a few holes but we finished strong, tied a team in the conference.”
Coach Peggy Kirby said the Vikings weren’t that far out of a first place finish on Saturday, but the University of Central Missouri Jennies had a good second day.
“I really felt that we could have won but just didn’t have a strong enough team to win,” Kirby said. “They played well.”
Weber said that a big focus is improving putting.
“Our coach is definitely into short game, but all of us kind of have individual things that we are trying to work on right now. We focus a lot on putting and chipping,” said Weber.
Kirby believes that putting has improved. In her eyes, however, the team still has work to do.
“We’ve worked a lot of short game and putting, and I can see some improvement in our putting, but this last weekend our iron play wasn’t good,” Kirby said. “When you don’t hit greens and fairways, it’s hard to score.”
Kirby said each week she has the athletes work on different things depending on how they played the previous tournament.
Junior Hannah Hankinson said that she finds team chemistry to be a great strength this year.
“We cheer each other on out on the course,” she said. “Golf is kinda weird in that it’s individual, but then you add them all together to make a team score.”
Hankinson believes that the team needs to work on being strong when starting tournaments.
“I would say our weakness is that in the last couple tournaments we haven’t started out as strong as we want to, so we definitely want to improve on that,” she said.
Junior McKayla Poppens said, “We don’t compete for ourselves, we compete for each other.”
Poppens believes one of the team’s strengths is its ability to recover after a bad shot or round.
“A big part of golf is staying in the present and not worrying about things that happened yesterday or on the last hole. Rather, you want to focus on the shot ahead of you, and that’s something I think everyone does pretty well,” she said.
The team’s chemistry has also caught the eye of Kirby.
“The four juniors are great captains and they’re really directing the team in a real positive impact on the underclassmen and everyone’s getting along great and encouraging one another,” Kirby said.
“These students have really bonded together and I think it’s going to make us really strong in the long run. I’m really proud of the captains and everybody’s attitudes and their work ethics. I know we’re going to keep playing hard and finding a way to win.”
With three tournaments down and three to go, Hankinson is excited for this weekend’s home tournament at the Elmwood Golf Course.
“We’re excited about hosting at Elmwood,” Hankinson said. “I think that’s definitely an advantage because we know it, and it’ll be nice not to have to travel and have a lot of support out there, hopefully.”
Looking forward to the rest of the season, Kirby said she has faith in her athletes.
“I’m confident that these girls will get in the right frame of mind to make it to the regional championship,” she said.
“There are some really strong teams so we’ll just keep practicing hard and trying to get better. We’ve been lucky the last ten years, but teams are getting better so we have to practice, play and work on things that we need to improve. That’s what’s fun about my job—I get to see them get better and give them the confidence that they need to get better.”