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Panthers win season-opener

By Staff | May 2, 2014

Ashley Burkhartsmeier/PCT Rugby High School junior Helen Johnson chips off the fringe at the Rugby Invitational on April 24 at Rugby Golf Course.

The Rugby High School girls golf team opened its season with a win on the home course April 24.

The Panthers’ top four shot a collective 443 to hold off second-place Bottineau and third-place Dunseith on a fair afternoon at Rugby Golf Course.

RHS junior Elizabeth Blessum shot the team-low of 100 and took second overall. The individual medalist was Skylar Aberle of MLS with 98.

“I guess you could tell it was the first meet because everybody was a bit rusty,” Blessum said. “The course was in pretty good condition and it went pretty well considering it was the first meet.”

Blessum was followed by third-place finisher Taren Braunberger (104) of Northern Lights. Rounding out the meet’s top five were Rugby juniors Darby Deckert (106) and Paige Johnson (107).

“Even though we didn’t play our best we still won by 40 strokes,” RHS coach Leah Johnson said, “which says a couple things. We’re still strong as a team, regardless, but our region has weakened a bit in the last couple years. (Our girls) don’t always play to the level they can because they don’t have to. It’s a real mental struggle, but hopefully all the other teams in the region will get better and we’ll see some other teams out of the region to help sharpen our skills.”

Blessum quickly found out which part of her game needs sharpening.

“My long game was pretty good, but I need to work on some of my short-range shots,” she said. “Putting was a little challenging because we haven’t been on the course that long.”

Deckert felt good about the opening meet.

“I’m pretty pleaseed with the first time going out,” Deckert sait. “I had some control things where some of my shots were going left and right, but those are things that can be fixed.

“I think we just need to focus on our game and less on what other people are doing. Take one hole at a time, one shot at a time and don’t let one shot get us down for the rest of the tournament.”

Leah Johnson was excited to see newcomer Breanna Deaver, a sophomore, improve through the round.

“She’d never held a club until March, when we began,” the coach said. “She went from an 85 to 69. She lost 16 strokes from the front to back, so we were very proud of her and what she was able to do.”

The team’s ever-changing schedule (weather) had the Panthers playing at Garrison, an individual-qualifier meet, on Friday.

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