KEWANEE, Ill. — Just two years ago, the Bettendorf girls’ golf team did not crack the upper half at the Mississippi Athletic Conference tournament.
So when coach Robbie Furne saw all six of his players lined up in the photograph for top-10 finishers at the conclusion of Monday’s 18-hole league tournament, there was plenty of pride, a giant smile and some relief.
Powered by an even-par round of 72 from medalist Shannyn Vogler, Bettendorf claimed its first MAC championship in more than a decade with a 346 total at Kewanee Dunes.
“This has to give our program a big shot in the arm,” said Furne, in his 10th year with the program. “I couldn’t begin to tell you when we won the last one. I’m elated, and it has been a long time coming.”
There have been some lean years for the Bulldogs under Furne. He remembers walking out of the clubhouse in sixth, seventh or eighth place at the conference tournament and not having a girl break 100.
“We had to build the program up numbers-wise,” he said. “Now, there are expectations of what they need to do. It was tough early on with my competitiveness to accept those scores, but I also think it helped the program move to where it needs to be.”
A strong work ethic has led the transformation.
Furne has his team in the weight room at 6:15 in the morning twice a week. Even on days it can’t practice outdoors because of weather, Bettendorf will try and get to an indoor simulator.
“We tell other kids we’re playing that and they’re like, ‘You guys lift?’” Bettendorf junior Kelley Lent said. “We don’t always have the best attitude at that time in the morning because we’re tired, but it benefits us a lot. I’m glad we do it.”
And Vogler gives the Bulldogs a legitimate No. 1 player.
The freshman had 14 pars, two birdies and two bogeys in her round to claim top individual honors by five strokes over Pleasant Valley freshman Erika Holmberg.
After a bogey at the third, Vogler responded with a birdie at the fourth. Then on the par-4 18th, Vogler chipped in for birdie from just off the green about 20 feet from the hole.
“I knew the grass was too thick to putt it,” Vogler said. “I was on a slope. I’m not sure why I decided to take the pin out, but I’m glad I did.
“I could have had a couple more birdies. I was a little short on a couple uphill chances, but I’m pretty pleased with how I played today.”
The other five players in Bettendorf’s lineup all broke 100. Lent and Peyton Bytnar finished fourth and fifth, respectively, with 90s. Maddie Wichmann turned in a 94. Layken Bytnar and Gracie Hart each had 97s.
It resulted in a 43-stroke win over Pleasant Valley. Davenport Assumption was third at 392.
Lent said a MAC title was among Bettendorf’s top three goals at the outset of the season. The other two are qualifying for the state tournament again and then placing high at state.
For the Bulldogs to challenge state-favorite West Des Moines Valley later this month at state, Furne said he’ll need three other girls to break 90.
“I don’t think we’ve peaked yet,” Lent said. “We’ve still got a lot coming.”
Holmberg’s 77 was a season-low 18-hole round by a stroke. She had three straight bogeys in two different stretches of her round, but offset that with birdies at the par-5 fourth and par-5 15th.
“I never thought I would make it this far in just this season,” Holmberg said. “Being the runner-up in the MAC is a really cool feeling.”
Assumption’s Olivia Leinart was third with an 84.