The Vikings, after qualifying through districts and sectionals, advanced to the Class 2 Tournament at Silo Ridge Country Club in Bolivar last month. After finishing in eighth place on day one, the Vikings finished the second and final day of the tournament in fifth place overall.
“What we could prepare for was that the practice round was gonna deliver us at Silo Ridge and what the next day brought,” Howell coach Jason Ruth said. The first-day brought relaxing weather and a temperature of 55 degrees. The next morning we woke up to 30-mile-an-hour winds, wet conditions with a one-hour delay, and we struggled but they [the girls] fought through it.
Howell’s special postseason run started on Oct.8 with a first-place finish in the Class 2, District 3 Tournament at Crescent Farms Golf Club in Eureka. Howell shot a 350 to beat out Marquette and Lafayette at the top of the leader board.
Kylee Hormuth and Sydney Rodgers led the Vikings charge, shooting 81 and 85 respectively in the match. Hormuth finished third and Rogers sixth individually in the field.
Next came an even more challenging trip to the Class 2, Sectional 2 tournament at LA Nickell Golf Club in Columbia on Oct. 14.
“So, the sectional tournament took us to a course where we had never seen anything like this course before,” Ruth said. “There were no bunkers, which is rare but what the course did have was very long par fours; a short, manageable par five; and a couple of par threes that I’d be surprised if 10% of the golfers out there would hit these in regulation.”
Howell had to contend with Rock Bridge and Helias, which had defeated them earlier in the season. Hormuth stepped up with a 78, and Rogers and Hannah Inchiostro shot an 86 and 87 to help the Vikings take second place behind Rock Bridge while edging out third place Helias.
“They fought through it and my number two golfer Sydney Rogers picked a great time of the season to start playing how she had her entire high school career,” Ruth said. “We ended up edging out Helias for second place by three shots, so it was a pretty emotional finish.”
That strong sectional showing led to the Vikings’ trip to the state tournament in Bolivar.
Hormuth turned in another top-shelf outing to help the Vikings claim fifth in the team standings with a score of 380. She garnered all-state medalist honors and a 15th place finish with her two-day score of 165. The fifth-place finish was the best in school history to date.
It was a great accomplishment for a group led by seniors Sydney Rogers, Josie Brackensiek and Alexis Betlach.
“My varsity crew has three seniors and two juniors. I think it would have been really easy for them to turn in the scores they did after day one of state and hang their heads and get really down on themselves,” Ruth said. “But instead they smiled, they brushed it off, looked forward to dinner and we went back to the hotel and relaxed and game-planned for the next day.”
The Vikings managed to shave an amazing 52 combined strokes off their first-day score, which allowed them to have a strong second-day finish on Oct. 22.
“What they [the girls] delivered me at the end of day two was 52 combined strokes better than day one, 44 of them which counted toward the overall score for day two,” Ruth said.
Howell will lose Rogers, Brackensiek and Betlach to graduation but with Hormuth back in the fold as a senior, Ruth is hopeful that the team will continue to improve and stay elite in the coming seasons.
“For me, if it’s possible [for them] to grow on this year as I did on last year, then I can only hope for that next year,” Ruth said.