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Golf: Injury scare opens Tigers' eyes

New Richmond junior Ashley Swiggum has emerged as one of the top players in the Middle Border Conference this fall. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

When the New Richmond girls golf team headed to Prescott for a Middle Border Conference match Sept. 6, the Tigers travelled without Maggie Veenendall, the top player in the MBC.

The match proved to be an eye-opener for the Tigers. The Tigers dropped to fifth place, the lowest finish for the Tigers in an MBC match in several years.

There was an MBC match the following day at Pheasant Hills Golf Course. Veenendall said her injured leg was well enough to play, and the rest of the Tigers rebounded from their weak round, earning a win in the Sept. 7 match.

Tiger coach Neal Ziller said it was determined that Veenendall's injury was a muscle strain and that she's supposed to do a stretching regimen before each round. She looked healthy Thursday. With her knee taped, she shot a 39, finishing six strokes better than her nearest competitor. The Tigers shot a 184, finishing 17 strokes ahead of second-place Ellsworth.

Ziller said it took just one hole for Veenendall to prove she was healthy. She opened on hole No. 2 at Pheasant Hills, which she birdied. Ziller said the return of Veenendall caused the rest of the Tigers to relax. Molly Hassler shot a 47, Ashley Swiggum 48, Elise Kolbeck 50 and Rebecca Ziller 51.

Ziller said Hassler and Kolbeck made necessary adjustments after they struggled in Wednesday's round. Swiggum led the Tigers with a 48 on Wednesday and Ziller shot a 49.

A bright spot for the Tigers was senior Sierra Keyes. She filled Veenendall's spot in the varsity lineup. In her first varsity match, she shot a career-best round of 54.

Somerset

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Thursday's round might not have represented the worst of times for the Somerset golfers, but Wednesday's round certainly marked the best of times. The Spartans surprised everyone by winning the MBC match championship at Prescott by shooting a season's best round of 201.

Senior Grace Bauer snapped out of a recent slump to shoot a 46, her best round of the season. Sophomore Haley Myers shot 47. Emma Westmoreland finished at 52 and Megan Erlitz finished at 56 to produce the 201 score.

"We were pretty stinking excited," Somerset coach Kristin Flater said of the team victory, the first conference win in her three years coaching the team.

Bauer ranked second in the conference scoring in that round and Myers ranked third. Flater said it is their goal to shoot 50 or better in each round.

The Spartans dropped to 219 on Thursday, and that dropped them back to eighth in the team results. Cora Atkins was the one Spartan who improved from Wednesday to Thursday, dropping her 61 score Wednesday to a 51. Bauer finished at 52, Myers 57 and Erlitz 59.

Flater said the recent upturn in the team's results has the girls excited for each match the rest of the season.

St. Croix Central

The Panthers had a slight dip in their production in Wednesday's match, but even a slight drop can be trouble in the tightly packed MBC this season. The Panthers dropped to 216 and that put them seventh in the results at Clifton Highlands. Brooklyn Mishler led the Panthers with a 50 on Wednesday. Audra Scott shot 53, Abby Edelman 55, Hanna Wehausen 58 and Parker Chladek 61.

Central's girls were eager to bounce back and they did so on their home course Thursday. They shot a 206 at Pheasant Hills, moving them up to third place. Scott led the Panthers with a 47, which tied for third in the individual results and was the best score for a Central player this season. Mishler shot a 50 and Wehausen a 54. Edelman and Mikaelyn Fry both finished at 55.

"I was happy to see that we were able to to successfully rebound at our home meet by shooting our best round as a team," said Central coach Logan Kimberly, noting that all six of the Panthers who played that day shot 55 or better.

Schedule

The MBC schedule is just about complete. The golfers return to Pheasant Hills at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15. There will be a conference match played Monday, Sept. 18, at Ellsworth. That leads into the 18-hole conference tournament, which will be played Tuesday, Sept. 19, at the Amery Golf Club.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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