ANKENY – Kimmy Askelson has raise the bar to new heights for future Cedar Rapids Xavier girls golfers.
The Saints junior became the school’s first girls golfer to qualify for the state tournament and then added to that accomplishment.
Askelson fired two rounds under 80 at Otter Creek Golf Course to finish with a score of 154, which was good for fourth place at the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union’s Class 4A state meet Wednesday.
Askelson carded a 75 in the first round and capped the meet with a 79. She was one of only four players to shoot in the 70′s both days, and one of only eight total golfers in both 3A and 4A competition at Otter Creek to record a round under 80.
“It was awesome,” Askelson said. “I played really well.”
A strong practice round showed Askelson’s promise, but she was unsure about how she would respond when it counted. She didn’t skip a beat, sitting within one stroke of Day 1 leader Katie Purcell of Ames, who won the individual title with a two-round score of 150. Ames also won the team title with 702, one shot better than runner-up Waukee.
“She had a good round to start her off,” Xavier Coach Julie Kadlec said. “That set the tone.”
The Saint excels when she gets around the green, possessing a good touch close and an ability to read the green. That aspect helped her keep her score low throughout the tournament.
“I had a lot of confidence in my short game,” Askelson said. “I got up and down a lot. Chip shots were within three feet almost every time.”
A highlight came at the par-5 No. 11 hole, ending in Askelson’s lone birdie. A strong tee shot set up one of her best shots of the tournament. Using a hybrid club in the fairway, she smashed the ball that put her withing range to pitch within 10 feet of the cup with a sand wedge and make the putt for four.
“I hit it the cleanest I had hit a shot so far in the tournament,” Askelson said about the second shot with a hybrid Rescue 3 club. “It completely swept the ground and hit the ball solid. It was perfect.”
Things weren’t so perfect throughout the back nine, where Askelson battled wind and some fatigue and had rough stretch, leading to four penalty strokes from finding hazards. She persevered the late trouble.
“She really has a strong mindset,” Kadlec said. “She’s a real competitor. She doesn’t let very many things fluster her in a game.”
Despite those four strokes possibly being the difference in her final standing, Askelson didn’t have a bitter taste from the penalties.
“Not so much because it was really awesome to be in the 70′s both days,” she said. “I think I had good comebacks on all the holes I found trouble.”
Kadlec said the feat is a boost for the program and serves as an example for other golfers of what it takes to reach this level. Askelson’s performance etches her name in the Xavier record book, but she said it reflects on this year’s team as well.
“It’s cool to be the first person to represent Xavier at the state golf meet,” Askelson said. “It showed our team was really powerful this year even though didn’t all make it. We were really good.”
Western Dubuque senior Ali Daly capped a fine prep career, placing fifth with a score of 82-79-161. The Bobcats placed eighth as a team with a two-day total of 745.
Iowa City West’s Madison Goodfellow earned accolades Wednesday, placing eighth in the individual event. Goodfellow was consistent, shooting 85-83-168.
Waukon’s Morgan McMillan notched her second consecutive top 10 finish at the 3A meet. McMillan, a junior who placed ninth last year, earned fifth place with an 83-83-165. Charles City freshman Jessie Sindlinger won medalist honors with an 80-77-157. Clear Lake took home the team title with a score of 737. Grinnell was second at 742.
Otter Creek is a little longer than the courses she is used to playing, but she overcame the distance.
“I thought I played as best as I could given the conditions,” McMillan said. “I’m satisfied with my finish.”
Some key second shots helped McMillan keep her score low, including a nice approach that put her pin-high and just eight feet from the cup on the 18th green.
McMillan has ascended the final standings each season, getting fifth and ninth after tying for 15th as a freshman. It’s a trend she plans to continue next season.
“This year I’m just improving more,” McMillan said. “It will make my goals higher for next year.”
She wasn’t the only Northeast Iowa Conference golfer to place well. Oelwein’s Katie O’Loughlin made Huskies Coach Howard Klatt’s (he’s stepping down after being the school’s only girls golf coach the last 44 years) last state meet memorable, shooting 85-82-167 to place sixth.
Williamsburg was eighth in the team standings, posting a final score of 809.
At the 2A state meet at Adel’s River Valley Golf Course, Dyersville Beckman earned runner-up honors with a score of 82-83-165. Ament won a tiebreaker after matching Clarinda’s Jennifer Geer. Both finished one shot back of champion Katie Gustafson of South Hamilton. Mid-Prairie senior kelsie Berg was eighth with a final score of 175, placing one spot ahead of Solon’s Kelsey Dircks (179).
Mid-Prairie finished fourth as a team with a 799. Cascade was sixth with 816. Carroll Kuemper won the 2A team race with 760, 27 shots better than runner-up Clarinda.
In Class 1A, also at River Valley, central City’s Christy Nelson finished in a three-way tie with the fifth-best score and placed seventh based on tiebreakers. Nelson carded a 175. Elkader Central’s Jenna Koehn tied Taylor Hill of Treynor with the eighth-best score of 176. The tiebreaker was in favor of Hill, leaving Koehn in ninth. Jocilyn Onnen of Grundy Center was the medalist with a 154, and Grundy center captured the team title with 716, edging Algona Garrigan by one stroke.
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