CEDAR RAPIDS — At an early age, golf emerged as the primary sports interest for Annette Marsalli.
The Cedar Rapids Kennedy senior started playing golf with her father, Ray, at six years old.
Her love of the sport remains, with a prayer by a wall in her bedroom devoted to golf.
Thanks to a lot of hard work over the last year, Marsalli will have to make room to display her all-conference certificate. Marsalli recorded a personal best round of 88, tying for sixth in the final round of the Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Division meet Monday at Ellis Golf Course. The performance was enough to earn first-team all-MVC Valley honors.
Marsalli carded an 89 at the MVC Super meet and 99 in the first divisional round, giving her a total of 276 to finish fifth overall. She finished one stroke ahead of Cedar Rapids Washington’s Emma Sorg, who was sixth to claim the last first-team spot.
“It means a lot,” Marsalli said. “It’s just been always golf for me. I’ve always considered that my main sport. It’s a big deal for me to make first team and know that I did well.”
Marsalli has made big strides over the last year. She was sixth in scoring average for the Cougars, entering this season with a low 18-hole score of 101. Now, Marsalli leads Kennedy with an average of 92.6 per round.
Kennedy Coach Julie Buerman has witnessed the progress. She had a feeling Marsalli was on the verge of a breakthrough round.
“This is great,” Buerman said. “Last week, I asked her if she could break 90 and she said ‘No, no, no’ but I knew she could do it. I knew she was really close.”
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Offseason work has paid dividends. Marsalli devoted more time since last season, including weekly sessions with an area golf professional and hitting in simulators to improve her technique.
“The lessons I’ve been taking with Brian Buerman at Elmcrest has helped a lot,” Marsalli said. “We’ve worked on getting my distance and putts a lot. It has made a huge difference.”
Buerman said she is glad to see Marsalli reap the rewards of her hard work. Buerman added that Marsalli has been more accurate with her shots, improved course management and has learned a lot, showing more patience during play.
Marsalli has handled playing with and against some of the state’s best.
“She has stepped in this year as the No. 1 and didn’t get too intimidated,” Buerman said. “She’s played with a lot of really good players this year and has handled it very well.”
Marsalli finished with 45 on the front and 43 on the back Monday. She did not realize how well the round had gone until the final three holes on her home course.
“I think I was more focused,” Marsalli said. “About halfway through the day, I realized I needed to turn more and that gave me more distance. I was reading my putts a lot better.”
Marsalli tied Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Lexi Poundstone, who garnered second-team all-MVC Valley honors. Poundstone carded an impressive birdie on the par-5 No. 12 hole to close her round with an 88. She finished with 284 over the three-round competition.
Washington’s Brittany Postma matched Sorg’s 90 on Monday. Postma was a second-team performer with a total score of 282. The Warriors finished fourth as a team with a total of 1,175, beating Prairie by 10 strokes, despite the Hawks owning a four-stroke edge in the final round.
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Cedar Falls shot 340, beating Dubuque Senior by eight strokes. The Tigers captured the MVC Valley crown with a total of 1,065, topping the Rams by 10 shots.
MISSISSIPPI VALLEY CONFERENCE
At Ellis Golf Course
Teams — 1. Cedar Falls 340, 2. Dubuque Senior 348, 3. Dubuque Hempstead 362, 4. C.R. Prairie 378, 5. C.R. Washington 382, 6. C.R. Kennedy 391, 7. Iowa City High 413.
Individuals — 1. Abby Marting (DS), 77, 2. Megan Sawyer (CF), 78, 3. Amara Lytle (CF), 79, 4. Breanna Felderman (DS), 82, 5. Morgan Hawkins (DH), 85.
PRAIRIE (378): Lexi Poundstone 88, Megan Hilliard 95, Paige Porter 97, Emmma Rubsam 98.
WASHINGTON (382): Emma Sorg 90, Brittany Postma 90, Blythe Heying 99, Lucci O’Donnell 103.
KENNEDY (391): Annette Marsalli 88, Amelia Spreitzer 99, Grace Archammbeau 101, Alaine Osterkamp 103.
CITY HIGH (413): Kaylee Paulsen 94, Emily Knoche 97, Lauryn Varo 110, Grace Bormann 112, Alexa Fredericks 112.
First team — 1. Marting (DS), 237, 2. Felderman (DS), 249, 3. Lytle (CF), 253, 4. Sawyer (CF), 257, 5. Marsalli (CRK), 276, 6. Sorg (CRW), 277.
Second team — 7. Hawkins (DH), 280, 8. Tegan Schultz (CF), 281, 9. Postma (CRW), 282, 10. Grace Considine (CF), 283, 11. Poundstone (CRP), 284, 12. Clare Rolinger (CF), 287.
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