Young golfers and senior leaders propel the Bulldogs into the postseason

In the swing of it: The Bettendorf girls golf team places second at the Burlington invitational. The girls team looks to take the momentum into the postseason.

By Rheanna DeCrow

With just two returning varsity players, the Bettendorf girls golf team is using their work ethic and talent to propel themselves to a respectable position to compete for the regional and state titles, all the while carrying three players that have never played competitive golf before this year.

“I would say it was a bit intimidating but it's been rewarding at the same time,” said first year sophomore Olivia Belanger.

Whatever nerves the young girls had going into the season haven’t held the Bulldogs back from a successful run thus far. The girls have amassed six podium finishes in their eight meets, including two first place finishes.

Despite their success, two consistent obstacles have stood in the way of the Bulldogs success: rival team Pleasant Valley, and mental errors on the course.

With some of the toughest competition in the state right next door, the Bulldogs continue to battle to keep up with the Spartans, falling short by 15 strokes or less every time.

Senior Audrey Whitaker thinks this could be attributed to the mental aspect of the game.

“The focus has been hard. COVID has taken a toll on all of us as students. Balancing work, school, and golf has been difficult, especially in a sport where focus is key, you have to have your mindset in the right place,” said Whitaker, who plays in the fourth spot for the team.

Whitaker is one of the three first year players. Regardless of her first year status, Whitaker has been a leader on the course and in the weight room.

Returning junior Sarah Giese says it’s the senior leadership that pushes the team to overcome the challenges and stay focused to keep competing.

“I think the seniors have done a wonderful job to bring the team together with bonding and pushing to do better. I really appreciate them because they keep me level headed, and when I make a bad shot they just tell us to shake it off, and when we make good shots they encourage us. They are always pushing us and telling us to go the extra mile because it will pay off in the end,” said Giese.

With both seniors graduating, the Bulldogs look onto a bright future. Along with Giese, junior Shannyn Vogler will be returning to lead the Bulldogs next year, with freshman Gianna Schwartz and Anabelle Donahoo, and sophomores Natalie Hitt and Belanger following their lead.

Giese thinks that the young girls’ hard work will pay off in the coming seasons.

“The girls have been pushing really hard to compete for varsity spots. I am really excited to get to play with them next year,” said Giese

For now, the Bulldogs will turn their attention to the postseason. Ranked second in the MAC and fifth in class 4A, the young Bulldog team is excited to continue working hard in the weeks to come.

“Mentally, we are trying to forget about the past and focus on the next shot. Our goal right now is to make it to state as a team and play the best we can against our rivals in the MAC,” said Whitaker.

Rheanna DeCrow, class of '21, is a senior.

This is her first year as a staff writer for The Growl

and her first as social media manager.


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