The Newton girls golf team is finally ready to get back into the swing of things.
The Cardinals’ perennial Little Hawkeye Conference contenders boast a solid, experienced roster that is expected to finish in the top two yet again. The Cardinals have finished first or second in the conference each year since they joined the league in 2007.
“We’re in the top two teams in my opinion,” coach Scott Enyart said. “It’s between us and Grinnell for the conference championship. As long as the girls are able to stay patient and work on their short game, we should be able to shave off enough strokes to contend. The girls are definitely dedicated and driven enough to make it happen.”
Returning for the Cardinals is one lone senior in Bailey Kellogg, which would suggest that this is a fairly young, inexperienced team. However, this is not the case. Also returning for Newton are three juniors in Madigan Hillyard, Carrie Cunningham and Madeline Wellik. They return along with now-sophomore Shelby Cochran, who earned all-conference honors as a freshman by finishing tied for 11th at the conference tournament last spring. Sophomore Kaitlyn Sorenson also returns to the squad after having made huge strides during her freshman campaign for the Cardinals.
“Bailey’s experience will be key, as well as her leadership. She is really leading by example. Madigan and Carrie are two-year letter winners,” Enyart said. “Madison came in from Minnesota last year, and she should be a lot more comfortable. Shelby did a nice job as a freshman. She made good strides and gained valued experience. Jessica Reynolds is a freshman coming in who played a lot from a young age. Overall, we have a lot of competitive experience, even though we only have the one senior.”
One big name that the Cardinals will surely miss is senior Hannah Long, who graduated after last season. Long was the low scorer for the Cardinals last year, but as Enyart suggests, her scores might not be too difficult to replace.
“This is the biggest squad I’ve had since I started coaching at Newton in 2002,” Enyart said. “We have 18 girls on the team this year, nine of which are freshman, and in a six-count-four situation, as long as we can get multiple girls to shave off one or two strokes, we should be in good shape. Mostly, I’m excited about the enthusiasm for the program. We have some competitive golfers coming in that should be able to compete for us right away.”
The goal for the girls is obviously to take that top spot in the conference after finishing second last season.
The whole team returning knows what second place feels like, and they have the desire to push them over the edge.
“As long as we play bogey golf, we should be very good,” Enyart said. “Our goal is to get everybody under 50. We want to get the short game under control and shave some strokes there. Once we get warmed up, we’ll be able to develop consistency.”
The Cardinals’ season begins on Friday at Pella.