COLFAX — Colfax-Mingo golf coach Nick Noring feels Delaney Underwood’s narrow miss of the state tournament last year came down to choosing the wrong club.
“She came up a little short last year,” Noring said. “She picked the wrong club. But that decision made her tougher. It made her understand the game even more than she already does.”
Underwood was three shots shy of a Class 1A state berth as a sophomore. In 2018, if she qualifies for the state meet, it will have to be in 2A as the Tigerhawks have been bumped up in both boys and girls.
Still, expectations for Underwood haven’t changed. Noring expects his top female golfer to make a run at the state meet.
“She’s put in the work in the offseason,” Noring said. “We have high hopes this season even though we bump up to 2A. We’ll take it one meet at a time and try to make this work in her junior year.”
The Tigerhawk boys will once again be led by junior Ahren Teed and sophomore Brady Berkey. Teed was the top golfer last season by an average of five to 10 strokes, but Noring thinks the duo could share time at the top of the lineup in 2018.
“I don’t know which one will be the No. 1 guy each meet,” Noring said. “They have a nice competitive nature between them. It may be different each meet.”
The Tigerhawk girls were 1A regional finalists last season.
Underwood placed fourth individually in the first round of regionals to lead the way, but Colfax-Mingo graduated its No. 2 golfer Amy Russell.
That means the rest of the team members will have to pick up the slack and improve their stroke averages to maintain their presence near the top of the South Iowa Cedar League.
Underwood averaged a 47 during 9-hole meets and had a low score of 44. She averaged 96 during 18-hole tournaments with her best score being a 91.
The next best returner from last year is junior Chelsea Russell, who averaged a 58 in 9-hole courses and a 111 in 18-hole meets. Her best 9-hole score was a 52.
After Chelsea Russell, the other returners are junior Camilla Schlosser and sophomores Sydni Hostetter, Brielle Reed and Shanen Shedenhelm. All four golfers had 9-hole averages in the 60s last year. Hostetter was the best at 60.17.
“We have about four or five returners all in the mix for positions two through six. Some others are out for the first time,” Noring said. “All of these kids are very raw. They want to learn, and they get so much better by the end of each year.”
Noring said he has 11 girls out this year. When he took over the head golf job in 2016, the total number of golfers between the boys and girls was 15. That number is now at 25.
The newcomers on this year’s girls’ squad are senior Jessica Zahn, juniors Shaylee Shedenhelm and Reghan Robinette and freshmen Kira Warrick and Summer Weber.
“Delaney has been a team leader for us,” Noring said. “While I am setting up the boys, she gets the girls going until Coach Underwood can get here. She takes the team aspect of this sport seriously.”
Teed was the clear-cut No. 1 golfer last year for the Tigerhawks, averaging a 47 in 9-hole meets and a 93 in 18 hole tournaments. His best 9-hole score was a 42 and he shot an 87 for his best 18 holes.
Berkey had the second-best averages for the Tigerhawks in 2017. His 9-hole average was a 52 with a best nine of 46. On 18 holes, Berkey averaged a 103 with the best score being a 98.
Senior Wyatt Smith (56.71) and juniors Skyler Aikin (55.14) and Nic Duffy (55.71) were all within a stroke of each other on their 9-hole averages. Aikin had the best one-round score of 47.
The other two returners are seniors Jake Dunsbergen and Jarod Nichols. The newcomers include senior Nathan Evans, sophomores Will Thornton and Zack Barnes and freshmen Jake Nichols, Brode Nichol, Jason Rhinehart and Matthew Warrick.
Of the newcomers, Noring believes Rhinehart’s experience and natural swing could move him into the varsity’s top six.
Colfax-Mingo will share practice time at Colfax Country Club with Baxter this season. The Bolts had to find a new home after splitting with Collins-Maxwell.
“It’s been pretty smooth. (Baxter coach) Zach (Hasselbrink) and I get a long great. We communicate on what’s going on. That’s critical, but we do well with that. It hasn’t been an issue for either of us.”
There will be seven home meets or tournaments for the Tigerhawks. They open 2018 at 4:15 p.m. on April 5 in Montezuma. The coed meet at Keota on April 3 was canceled due to weather.
The home opener is at 4:15 p.m. on April 9 against BGM and North Mahaska.