Rock Bridge golfers try to keep practice for state finals fun

Saturday, October 15, 2011 | 10:51 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Golfers are not known for their running ability.

That’s why it was slightly odd that members of the Rock Bridge girls golf team were sprinting with their golf bags strapped to their backs during practice.

“I never really thought I was going to run at golf practice, but it was actually kind of fun,” Bruins junior Makayla Baker said.

At practice last week in preparation for Monday and Tuesday's Class 2 state tournament, Bruins assistant coach Austin Reed made the girls run with their golf bags from the first green all the way to a sand trap on the next hole at A.L. Gustin Golf Course. What did they do once they reached their destination?

“We got in the sand and hit a shot,” Baker said with a chuckle.

Reed said he wanted to make practice a little fun and different by making the team do some extra physical activity.

“My thought was, before these girls go to state and play in a big tournament with probably a lot of pressure, let’s kind of have a little fun,” Reed said.

Baker guessed that was Reed’s way of trying to get the team to focus on one shot at a time and not let the results of past shots linger. Even though the activity was fun to Baker, she said she didn’t realize how intense it would be to run any kind of distance with an entire set of golf clubs on her back.

Bruins junior Kaitlyn Marsh said the players ran about 130 yards. She said she had a little fun with the activity by knocking Reed into the bunker, but she also expressed a little angst at having to lug her bag around.

“I don’t want to run,” Marsh said with a smile. “I hate running. No one else wanted to do anything the rest of the time because we ran for just one par three.”

Marsh said that most of the team was sore the next day. However, she said she knows Reed was only asking this of them because he was trying to prepare them for the mental rigors of the state finals.

“I know he really cares about what we’re doing,” Marsh said, “Because he always comments on my round and tells me, you know, little tidbits of information that are good.”

Reed expressed no doubt that the Bruins are ready for state, saying he knows he and head coach Melissa Melahn have prepared the girls for any situation.

Rock Bridge won its sectional last week, setting an 18-hole team record with a 333. In addition, Marsh tied for second individually with a round of 79.

Marsh described the team’s mood in practices this week as relaxed but tense. She said she has personally been a little nervous with the tournament looming.

“We know that right now should be a reflection of what state’s going to be like, and maybe some of us aren’t playing as well as we’d like to,” Marsh said, pointing to herself.

However, she also said she anticipates the team being focused and everything settling down once play begins on Monday.

After winning the sectional tournament, Rock Bridge hopes to continue its success at state finals, which takes place at Sedalia Country Club.

Bruins No. 1 golfer Morgan Reimler is coming off a disappointing ninth-place finish at the sectional. She said she trusts her teammates after the event. Like Reed, Reimler said she has no doubt that she and the Bruins will be ready for state.

“I did not play as well as I could have,” Reimler said, “But it was also really exciting to know that I didn’t need to because we have so much depth on our team.”

The general attitude around Rock Bridge is undoubtedly positive. Obviously the coaches and players are confident, but according to Melahn, some employees at A.L. Gustin have been encouraging as well.

Melahn said that before a practice round last week, while the team was about to tee off, one employee announced the Bruins as the soon-to-be 2011 state champions.

“He said, they’ve got to start hearing it and be comfortable with it, and it’s true,” Melahn said. “If you don’t think it’s going to happen, why’s it going to happen?”

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