PRAIRIE GROVE – Several years ago, Monday’s girls golf match against Richmond-Burton would have resulted in a lopsided win for Prairie Ridge.
But things have changed this season, and the Rockets have high expectations.
“We’re going to state this year as a team,” R-B junior Blake Betke said.
“In years past, [Prairie Ridge] would just kick our butt out here,” Rockets fifth-year coach Brandon Creason said. “It would just be like practice for them, but we have some really talented golfers this season that can make some noise.”
The Rockets have indeed made some noise this season by winning their first two duals while taking second place in a tough Marian Central Invitational last week. Their successes continued Monday as they defeated Prairie Ridge, 192-219, at Prairie Isle and improved to 3-0.
R-B was led Betke who carded a 41 to take medalist honors.
Betke was paired with talented, but raw, freshman teammate MacKenzi Hahn, who shot a 50.
Jenny Wojcik (48) and Emily Fox (53) rounded out the scoring for the Rockets.
The golfers played the back nine Monday, and the round had an ominous start for Betke. It took her eight strokes to escape the first hole of the day, a par-5, after hitting her ball into the water twice, but she rebounded and made a stroke back after a long birdie putt on 14.
“I was a little worried after that awful start,” Betke said, “but my confidence just went up after getting that out of the way, and we were able to put together some nice rounds.”
Hahn also impressed herself and the other golfers especially on her tee shots.
The freshman showed off on the 14th hole as she drove her ball over the green 218 yards away with a 3-wood. Creason shook his head as he watched the other golfers hit approach shots while Hahn walked to the back of the green to find her ball near a pine tree.
“I’ve had people come up to me and tell me they can’t believe she is just a freshman,” Creason said of Hahn. “She can really hit the ball. It’s impressive.”
She had to rein in her powerful shot on 17 as the cup on the par-3 sits just 86 yards away.
“I told her to tee off with a putter,” Betke joked.
As for Prairie Ridge, Brooke Johnson said her wrist didn’t feel right and wasn’t happy with her round of 52. Junior Erin Wing parred five holes in a row until the 18th but ran into some trouble finishing her round. She took a nine on the hole but ended up with a 49.
“Improvement is all you can really ask for,” Wing said. “We didn’t putt very well as a team, and putting is huge. We just have to get better and work on things to do so.”
Coach Pattie Hie noted that this season is all about getting better and improving while trying not to be worried about losing. The Wolves have just five golfers, but Hie was doing some serious recruiting during the first day of classes. She went to every P.E. class and told the girls about the sport and thinks she had a few bites and hopes some come out to practice Tuesday.
“We just need some younger players to be able to learn from and grow with the ones we have now,” Hie said. “It’s really important to be able to do that when rebuilding a team.”