For the first time in 20 years, Newton’s girls’ golf program will have new direction. And Ashley Kahler will have one of the best players in the entire state and an experienced roster at her disposal as the Cardinals attempt to get back to the state tournament.
Junior Rylee Heryford finished third in the Class 4A state tournament in 2019. She had aspirations to win a state title in 2020 but the spring seasons were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Cardinals will stay in 4A for at least one more year. And Allison Grier is back for her 16th season as an assistant coach in the program.
“The team is ready to play golf again,” Kahler said. “They are excited to be given the opportunity to play. This team has a lot of experience on the golf course.
“I believe we can make a run at the conference title and a run at qualifying for state.”
The Newton girls’ golf team features nine players. Seniors Abby Price and Bekah Vasseau are back after claiming all-conference honors in 2019. Heryford, who won the LHC title as a freshman, leads a junior class that also includes Madison Price and Emily Zink.
Sophomores Marin Pettigrew, Ella Price and Jessie Hutchinson also are back after not being able to compete as freshmen. The lone freshman is Mackenzie Schippers.
Hutchinson will dual sport this spring with track and field. Pettigrew also will play on the girls soccer team.
“Abby and Bekah provide experience and great senior leadership on and off the golf course,” Kahler said. “The sophomores are very eager to get golfing since they missed their freshmen year.”
Heryford set three school records as a freshman in 2019.
She set a new record nine-hole score of 35, reset the record for 18 holes with a 71 and also tallied a 150 for 36 holes at the state meet, which was the lowest two-round score in program history.
Heryford’s 37.83 nine-hole average ranked third in 4A two years ago and her 18-hole average of 78.67 was fifth.
“Everyone knows Rylee is already very accomplished,” Kahler said. “She was third in the state as a freshman and just received her third consecutive player of the year.
“She is one of the best golfers in the state and she can beat anyone when she’s locked in. I believe she is ready to take the next step in her career and do amazing things.”
Newton tied for second in the Little Hawkeye Conference regular season standings and also placed second at the LHC tourney in 2019. The Cardinals were fifth at regionals.
Abby Price earned all-conference honors after finishing eighth in the LHC tournament in 2019. Her nine-hole average was 53.83 and she averaged 100.17 for her 18-hole rounds.
Vasseau was an honorable mention all-conference player after placing 16th as a sophomore. She averaged 52.67 for nine holes and 98 for 18 holes.
“We are working hard on our short game,” Kahler said. “Meets will be won and scores will lower around the greens. We must be able to chip and two putt and we must not let one bad hole ruin a round.”
Kahler takes over for long-time coach Scott Enyart. She played four years of high school golf at Eldora-New Providence and was on three state title teams and one runner-up squad.
Kahler also qualified for the NJCAA National Golf Tournament during her one semester of golf at Ellsworth Community College.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity,” Kahler said about taking over the Newton girls golf program. “This is my first year of coaching golf, but I have a lot of experience in coaching.
“Newton has a rich history in golf. I believe I am the first woman golf coach here and only the fourth coach in the history of Newton girls golf. The girls have been great student-athletes and they are very focused young ladies. They strive to become a better golfer/person each and every day.”
Varsity Girls Golf Schedule
April 12 — Urbandale (Urbandale Golf and CC), 2 p.m.
April 13 — Oskaloosa/Pella, 4:15 p.m.
April 15 — DCG/Indianola (Beaver Creek), 3 p.m.
April 19 — West Des Moines Valley (Willow Creek), 9 a.m.
April 22 — Ankeny (Otter Creek), 9 a.m.
April 27 — Linn-Mar (Hunters Ridge), 11 a.m.
April 29 — Marshalltown (Elmwood CC), 10 a.m.
May 3 — Indianola/Grinnell (Indianola CC), 3 p.m.
May 4 — Norwalk (Willow Creek), 4:15 p.m.
May 6 — Home Invitational, 1 p.m.
May 10 — LHC tournament (Oskaloosa’s Edmundson Park), 9 a.m.
May 13 — Southeast Polk (Copper Creek), 9 a.m.
Home meets in bold