CLINTON — Coach Dan Sullivan says this is the year for his Clinton girls golf team to break through.
He is hoping that with a little confidence and consistency his experienced squad can compete with anybody in the Mississippi Athletic Conference not named Pleasant Valley.
The River Queens opened their season Monday on a soggy Clinton Country Club at the Oaks and finished second behind the defending conference champion Spartans. Pleasant Valley won with a 170-stroke total, while Clinton and North Scott tied in the triangular on the back nine with 235s.
“Starting with PV is tough on the kids’ psyche,” Sullivan said.
The Spartans are led by two-time conference medalist Anna Cullinan and 2012 third-place finisher Rachele Miller. They tied for medalist honors Monday, each shooting a 3-over-par 39.
The River Queens were missing two of their returning players, including 2012 MAC runner-up Amanda Harrop.
“We only had five girls and had to play a freshman up,” Sullivan said. “She (Rachelle Susie) did a great job and shot a 68.”
Course conditions were far from ideal, too. The course hadn’t dried out from heavy rain in the morning.
“It was real muddy, a lot of standing water,” Sullivan said. “We had to go to a winter-rules type of thing.”
“I expect our scores to drop a lot. I see us breaking 200.”
Of course, he is counting on the players using their experience as a benefit.
Besides Harrop, Alli Gallardo, Brittany Coppess, Britani Moore, Trista Gooch and Karley Sullivan all have varsity experience. Coppess led the Queens on Monday with a 49.
“Brittany has seen all the courses, so it’s going to get easier,” Sullivan said. “Alli has been around long enough. Britani Moore keeps knocking off strokes every time she plays.”
What they lack, though, according to Sullivan, is confidence.
“We’re still learning,” he said. “Last year, they learned how to win and compete. They’re still doing that.
“It comes down to not doubting yourself. Golf is a confidence sport. Our girls have to get that swagger. If they work hard, I don’t think anything can stop them. They need to work on things they’re not doing well.”
They need consistency, too.
“A lot of times we have three play well,” Sullivan said. “We’ve got to have that fourth score. One of those three has to pick us up.”
If they can find the confidence and consistency they have lacked, the Queens could soar up the conference standings this spring.
“I expect us to compete with anybody else in the MAC but PV,” Sullivan said. “I don’t see anybody else in the MAC I’m afraid of. That’s how I want the girls to think.”
The next test comes Thursday when Clinton plays at the North Scott Invitational at Glynn’s Creek Golf Course in Park View.
Mohawks win at Preston
PRESTON — Led by the third- and fourth-place individuals, Marquette Catholic won the title of the Preston Invitational by 25 strokes Monday at Plum River Golf Course.
Alex Timmerman shot an 81 to lead the Mohawks, while teammate Isaac Sturm was another stroke back. Mitch Kirby and Brandon Jacobs each added a 92 to give Marquette a 347 team total.
Host Preston took second with a 372 total, while Camanche was third with a 375 in the six-team event.
Bellevue’s Riley Till won a playoff with Connor Evers of Prince of Peace to earn medalist honors. Each shot a 6-over-par 78 in regulation. Till’s round included 12 pars, while Evers had birdies on the par-5 Nos. 1 and 10 holes to go with nine pars. A double-bogey on the par-5 12th hole hurt him.
1. Pleasant Valley 170; 2. (tie) Clinton 235, North Scott 235.
Co-medalists — Anna Cullinan (PV), Rachele Miller (PV) 39.
PLEASANT VALLEY — Cullinan 39, Miller 39, Maddy Hurning 43, Abby Elceser 49.
CLINTON — Brittany Coppess 49, Britani Moore 56, Alli Gallardo 62, Rachelle Susie 68.
NORTH SCOTT — Kiersten Breneman 51, Riley Nylin 43, Missy Black 64, Liz Richards 67.
1. Marquette Catholic 347; 2. Preston 372; 3. Camanche 375; 4. Bellevue 380; 5. Northeast 423; 6. Prince of Peace 436.
1. Riley Till (B) 78*; 2. Connor Evers (PoP) 78; 3. Alex Timmerman (MC) 81; 4. Isaac Sturm (MC) 82; 5. Andrew Jacobs (PoP) 88; 6. Mitch McElroy (C) 89.
MARQUETTE CATHOLIC — Timmerman 81, Sturm 82, Mitch Kirby 92, Brandon Jacobs 92, Lucas Frank 101, Kody Kilburg 102.
PRESTON — Craiton Andresen 89, Matt Zeimet 92, Blake Bormann 95, Colton Bormann 96, Jarrod Lee 101, Marshall Driscoll 109.
CAMANCHE — McElroy 89, Brody Lodge 95, Andrew Donahue 95, Zach Smith 96, Zach Spittler 125.
BELLEVUE — Till 78, Joey Pitts 97, Austin Michels 100, Jesse Connally 105, Jarrett Friederick 110, Keenan Ploessl 120.
NORTHEAST — Shawn Banowetz 92, Levi Banowetz 93, Trey Sullivan 119, Jarrett Sterk 119, Dalin Briggs 131, Jared Isbell 131.
PRINCE OF PEACE — Evers 78, Jacobs 78, Colin Schrader 126, Jacob Jankowski 144.