Winning their second straight Iowa Class 4A Regional Golf Championship at home Tuesday, Newton High’s Cardinal girls earned the team’s third consecutive trip to the Iowa Class 4A State Golf Tournament.
The Cardinals have strong leadership going into the 4A state meet Monday and Tuesday at the American Legion Golf Course in Marshalltown. Senior Shelbey Cochran and junior Jessica Reynolds will be competing in their third state tournament for Newton. Junior Cydney Hillyard tees off in her second straight state meet.
Joining those three are first-time state qualifiers Abby Jolivette, a senior, and juniors Emily Fitzgerald and Jessie Smith.
Newton’s golfers are familiar with Marshalltown’s American Legion Golf Course. The Cardinals played it pretty well a month ago, taking second in the small-school division of the Linda Bloom Invitational. They shot a 369 for 18-holes.
State is a two-day, 36-hole event. Golfers tee off at 9 a.m. each day. Newton is one of eight full teams qualified for the tournament. Other teams are Washington, Humboldt, Wahlert, Western Dubuque, Adel-DeSoto-Minburn, Fairfield and Storm Lake.
“We’re approaching the state tournament like it is just another regular tournament,” Reynolds said. “I like that course (American Legion) a lot and it is fun to play. We had one our best scores there earlier, so it allows us to take some confidence into the state meet.
“You want to hit straight shots on that course. We’re going out to play our game — individually and as a team.”
Reynolds, who led the Cardinals to a third-place finish at the 2014 4A state tournament, is Newton’s top golfer for the season. She placed eighth as an individual a year ago at the state. Reynolds leads Newton in combined average over nine-hole and 18-hole tournaments with a 44.75. That is fifth best among 4A golfers.
Cochran, who won an individual 4A regional championship in 2014 and finished tied for 31st at state a year ago, averages 50.41. Hillyard is second on the Newton team with a combined average of 48.12. Hillyard placed 37th at state last year.
“Winning the regional at home was a lot of fun. It’s what I wanted all season or the team. We were working hard for it,” Cochran said. “I’m excited to go back to state my senior year. I hope to finish it off well at state.”
For Hillyard, it is about doing better than she did at the 2014 state tournament.
“I struggled last year and my team carried me. I’m hoping this year I can help them out more,” Hillyard said. “I’m more comfortable going into this state. I played the Marshalltown course pretty well earlier this year.”
Jolivette said it was exciting to win a regional championship as a team.
“This is my first year on the varsity squad let alone being able to go to state, so I’m really excited I get the opportunity to play at state as a senior,” Jolivette said. “I worked hard over the offseason, and I’ve seen my shot go farther this year and I’ve developed more consistency in my game as a whole.”
Smith admitted she was a little nervous heading into the state tournament for the first time.
“I think if I just go out and play my game on this course, I’ll be alright,” Smith said. “It felt good to win the regional championship. After losing all the good seniors we did from last year, it was special we were able to come back and win it again.”
Fitzgerald is the other first-time state qualifier for Newton.
“I’m very nervous, but more excited about the experience. I just want to play my best. We focus on taking one shot at a time and one hole at a time,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m looking to shoot my best score to help the team do well.”
Cochran and Reynolds said golf varies each time out and golfers have to understand not to worry about a bad shot or a bad hole.
“We all started off pretty rough at the regional Tuesday, but fought back. We really wanted to be at state as did ADM,” Reynolds said. “It takes all of us playing our best on that day to do well as a team.”
Cochran has struggled to find her consistency this season, but has come on strong down the stretch of the season. She said it comes down to her not liking to give up.
“Every hole is a new hole. You have to leave a bad shot or a bad hole behind and keep fighting,” Cochran said. “That’s what I do, plus I hope my teammates are doing well. That fuels my fire to keep battling to the end.”
Newton head coach Scott Enyart said he was confident in his team going into the state tournament. He said Washington is the odds-on favorite to win the team championship.
“Then it is a battle for second through sixth place. We’ll be in it, if we go out and play our game. We’re treating it as just another round of golf, another tournament,” Enyart said. “I’m proud of our girls and what they’ve done this season. We’ve played against some top caliber teams and done well.”
Both the Class 4A and Class 3A state tournament are being held at American Legion Golf Course.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org