As the weather improves, so does the game of the Moffat County High School girls golf team.
The Bulldogs played in two tournaments last week, with a trip to Glenwood Springs Monday and Delta Friday. Moffat County finished first and fourth respectively and is starting to play better than team members expected so early in the spring.
"We've been able to get out a lot more because of the nicer weather," said Brittany Hutton. "You can tell it has helped because we are placing a lot higher than I thought we would be at this point in the season."
While the tournament in Glenwood was mostly against JV teams, a golf course is no less forgiving for a JV tournament than a full varsity competition. Hutton shot a 90 for first place and Kassi Shafer finished in second, four strokes behind Hutton.
Before the tournament in Delta, the team set individual goals. Hutton hoped to break 90 and she did so, shooting an 85, which was a career best in a high school tournament. It was good enough for fourth place and Shafer tied for eighth with a 92. Kaylee Perry and Stephanie Kloos rounded out the scoring for the Bulldogs with scores of 115 and 116 respectively.
The team was without Morgan Cobb, who didn't make the trip because of illness. Regardless, the combined score of 292 was only behind Class 5A teams. The top team in the Western Slope for 4A, Eagle Valley, didn't bring its varsity squad, but coach Tom Dockstader said he believes his team is playing at Eagle Valley's level.
"Once Morgan is back and playing where she can, as far as I'm concerned, it should be between us and (Eagle Valley)," he said. "I really can't think of any other 4A team on the slope that can challenge for the top -- except maybe for Palisade."
Hutton's 85 and fourth-place finish was the highlight of her season so far.
"It's nice because I was able to get such a low score so early," she said. "It was exciting to be standing up there among all of the well-known golfers on the Western Slope."
Today the team is at Montrose for a tournament but with a different lineup. The underclassmen on varsity stayed home to get caught up on some schoolwork. With a tournament today and Monday and Friday next week, Dockstader said it was best to give some of the girls who hadn't competed yet a turn as well as give those who had missed some school to stay home for a day. Hutton agreed with the decision.
"Right now I'm thinking about getting caught up with a lot of homework," she said. "With the ACTs and missing class for travel, I'm a little behind."
The full varsity squad will return to action Monday at Cotton Ranch Golf Course in Eagle Valley. The course is the regional course and it also will be the first time the Bulldogs have seen the Devils since the first week of the season, which was almost a month ago.
"The next couple of weeks are pretty intense as we get ready for regionals," Dockstader said. "The team is playing well right now and I think it will continue."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org