POPLAR GROVE – Blake Betke and her Richmond-Burton golf teammates knew the Rockets carried all the pressure entering Wednesday's Big Northern Conference Tournament with a 17-0 record.
Yet that knowledge and potential added stress didn't faze the Rockets during the 18-hole tournament at Timber Pointe. Betke carded an 84 to finish second, one shot back of Burlington Central's Jenna Kuosky. She wasn't the only one on R-B to have a great day on the course. Mackenzie Hahn (86) finished fourth, Kat Cummings shot a 93 and Emily Fox carded a 98 to lead the Rockets to the BNC Tournament title.
R-B (361) defeated second-place Burlington Central by eight shots. Harvard (461) and Marengo (486) finished ninth and 10th, respectively. The win secured R-B the overall BNC championship. The Rockets were also given the sportsmanship award after Wednesday's tournament, which was voted on by conference coaches.
"We just went out there and took every shot one shot at a time, and we all played our own game," Betke said. "We didn't worry about anybody else."
Betke, Hahn and Cummings each earned All-BNC honors for their performances, while Fox got All-BNC honorable mention. Abby Linhart shot a 99 to lead Harvard, and Marengo's Monica Millard posted a 109.
"I played a practice round on Sunday, but there were a couple hard holes," Hahn said. "I thought I was going to shoot worse than I did on the front because I got an 8 and a 7, but otherwise I did pretty good."
Betke and Hahn said they stayed away from using their drivers to limit the possibility of hitting the ball out of bounds or missing the fairway. While Betke was somewhat disappointed to finish her final whole with a triple bogey – the perils of getting stuck in a bunker – she was excited by R-B's performance heading into regionals next week.
R-B coach Brandon Creason was also pleased with the Rockets' performance. The standout score from Cummings was certainly a bright spot for R-B. Cummings, who has been the Rockets' No. 5 all year, posted the third-best score for the Rockets on Wednesday, and finished in the top 10 overall.
"The girls had goals to start the season, and this was one of them, so that's good," Creason said. "I'd say it was a pretty productive day."
Marengo coach Nate Wright found encouragement from some of his golfers posting scorers that were noticeable improvements from the beginning of the year.
"It's nice to see them playing their best golf at the end of the year," Wright said. "The other thing about it is, they're all new golfers or relatively new golfers, so it's a nice step to get out here, play 18 holes and get some experience."