CLINTON — Both coaches got about what they expected when Central DeWitt edged Clinton 219-225 in the opening girls golf meet of the season for each school Monday at Valley Oaks Golf Course.
Neither DeWitt’s Troy Steffens nor Clinton’s Dan Sullivan put a lot of stock in the final scores, and both expect a lot more from their teams as the season goes on.
“To me, the first three weeks are practice,” Steffens said.
“It’s kind of what you expect,” Sullivan said. “There were some big mistakes, and the girls compounded them because they were nervous. It gives them an idea of what they need to work on.”
Only one player shot below 50 on the par-36 front nine. Returning state qualifier Brittany Coppess of Clinton shot a 4-over-par 40 to claim medalist honors by 12 strokes over a pair of Sabers, Maddie Blandin and Ellie Best.
“It’s not a bad start, but it’s not a good start, either,” said Coppess, who played the same nine in 38 in a practice round a day earlier. “I learned I need to chip and putt. Just simple stuff I need to work on like turning over the ball and my short game.”
Coppess, who started on No. 9, made a pair of birdies to highlight her round. The first came on the 342-yard, par-5 second hole.
“I hit my driver over the big tree; hit an 8-iron low, just short of the green; chipped on; and one-putted from about five feet,” she said.
The second birdie came on the 239-yard, par-4 seventh.
“I like that hole,” she said of the short par-4 that suits her game well. “I have the power to go over the trees and land on the green.”
Her tee shot was right of the green Monday, but she chipped on and one-putted for the birdie. She then finished her round with bogey-4 on No. 8, missing her par putt by inches.
Coppess heads into her senior season full of confidence, certain it will be her best year yet.
Sullivan is hoping the rest of the girls can trim their scores to get closer to Coppess and put the team below 200 in a nine-hole meet and below 400 in an 18-hole tournament.
“We need somebody to chase Brittany and get in that 50 range,” he said.
He also noted that if each player other than Coppess had cut just two strokes Monday, the River Queens would have tied the Sabers.
Steffens said the Sabers had similar goals to Clinton.
“I’m hoping by the end we will be under 200,” he said. “I think that is very attainable. I don’t think anybody will shoot a 40, but they can be in the 40s and low 50s.”
CENTRAL DEWITT 219, CLINTON 225
Valley Oaks GC, front nine, par 36
Medalist — Brittany Coppess (Clinton) 40.
CENTRAL DEWITT — Maddie Blandin 52, Ellie Best 52, Olivia Haack 56, Claie Campbell 59, Andrea Suhr 60, Shannon Hoyle 65.
CLINTON — Coppess 40, Lily Gabel 60, Rachelle Susie 62, McKenzley Morris 63, Katy Fier 66, Genevieve Ehlers 67.