CORALVILLE — Neely Maurus learned a little something about her golf game.
The Iowa City Liberty sophomore has improved from her first varsity season. She proved she can compete with players that bettered her in the past.
Maurus carded an 83 for medalist honors at the CRANDIC girls’ golf meet Wednesday at Brown Deer Golf Club. Linn-Mar captured its first team title at the event since 2012, scoring 369 and edging runner-up Cedar Rapids Washington by two.
“I was hoping to win, but I thought I would place top-five,” Maurus said. “Some of the girls beat me last year, so I just didn’t know if they were going to beat me again this year or if I had gotten a lot better. I guess I improved more than I thought.”
Maurus has dropped her nine-hole average by almost six strokes from last season and her first 18-hole round on her home course was more than 11 below her freshman average. She focused on her short game to cut scores and it paid dividends, navigating the occasionally tricky and unforgiving course with a tight back nine.
It was a product of more time spent chipping and putting than on the range.
“I needed that,” Maurus said with a laugh. “My approach shots weren’t that good (Wednesday). My short game made up for it.”
One of her approach shots midway through the round helped her win the meet. Maurus recorded an eagle on the 393-yard, par-5 No. 15 hole. The tee shot with a hybrid rested in the fairway with a lucky bounce, sitting about 135 yards from the hole. Her approach stopped about 10 to 12 feet from the pin and she made the putt for a 3.
“It was nice,” Maurus said. “I was doing OK. I think it put me at 4-over, but then I doubled the next hole. Kind of wasted it.”
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She is taking the early success in stride. Maurus said she isn’t sure if she just had a good day or others had a bad one. She wants to keep improving and it’s too soon to tell what it means for the rest of the season.
“We’ll have to see,” Maurus said. “Hopefully, I will keep lowering my score.”
The Lions won a tight team race. Tori Niemeyer and Tatum Depuydt led the way, tying for third with 87 apiece. Kenzie Jensen, who has been splitting time between golf and the school musical, returned to the lineup and added 93, including 41 on the tough back. Sydney Stephenson rounded the scoring.
“It’s more of a step forward,” Depuydt said. “It’s a small milestone.
“We came in saying we wanted to place at least top three. We wanted to see where it goes from there, try our hardest and we ended up winning. It was great.”
Linn-Mar Coach Chris James said sometimes rounds can be rough, but the Lions showed some resilience to come out on top.
“There are many different ways to get the ball in the hole,” James said. “I’m happy and proud of the way these girls worked on their game the last couple days. They are starting to reap the benefits of it a little bit.”
Washington was paced by Blythe Heying’s 88. Brittany Postma shot 91, while Emma Sorg added 92 for the Warriors. Cedar Rapids Xavier was third with 377. Ellie Braksiek was the runner-up medalist with an 85 for the Saints.
(Brown Deer Golf Club, par 71)
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Teams — 1. Linn-Mar 369, 2. C.R. Washington 371, 3. C.R. Xavier 377, 4. Iowa City West 390, 5. C.R. Kennedy 392, 6. Iowa City Liberty 398, 7. Iowa City High 399, 8. C.R. Prairie 402, 9. C.R. Jefferson 421, 10. Marion 451.
Individuals — 1. Neely Maurus (ICL), 83, 2. Ellie Braksiek (CRX), 85, 3 (tie) Tori Niemeyer (LM) and Tatum Depuydt (LM), 87, 5. (tie) Blythe Heying (CRW) and Kaylee Paulsen (ICH), 88.
LINN-MAR (369): Niemeyer 87, Depuydt 87, Kenzie Jensen 93, Sydney Stephenson 102.
WASHINGTON (371): Heying 88, Brittany Postma 91, Emma Sorg 92, Lucci O’Donnell 100.
XAVIER (377): Braksiek 85, Kaitlin Hotchkiss 94, Libby Kramer 96, Kelsey Koberg 102.
I.C. WEST (390): Ellie Kouba 91, Claudia Chia 91, Rylee Goodfellow 102, Laurel Kelley 106.
KENNEDY (392): Grace Archambeau 92, Tasha Gilkison 96, Amelia Spreitzer 101, Alanie Osterkamp 103.
I.C. LIBERTY (398): Maurus 83, Ella Johnson 101, Grace Crimmins 106, Brianna Butterfield 108.
CITY HIGH (399): Paulsen 88, Lauryn Varo 99, Grace Bormann 104, Anna Knoche 108.
PRAIRIE (402): Morgan Flynn 92, Kerrigan Levi 96, Allie Day 107, Paige Porter 107.
JEFFERSON (421): Elizabeth Buchheim 98, Kaylee Donner 103, Kierra Thomas 107, Cassidy Boche 113.
MARION (451): Ally Sarah 106, Delaney Hooker 108, Jordyn Lang 118, Sarah McGuire 119.
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