ROCK FALLS – There was a chipmunk feasting on the nuts that the strong rains knocked from the trees at Rock River Golf & Pool on Saturday afternoon. One smooth swipe after the other, the furry animal downed his lunch.
So it was fitting that Morgan Newton got what she wanted out of a chip with a smooth swipe of her own. She was in danger of letting the fourth hole slip away.
Three shots left her off the green, but it was her fourth and best shot of the day that propelled her to a third-place finish at the Rocket Invite.
“That saved me,” Newton said.
The Erie senior was looking for par and, with a solid swing, watched as her ball rolled and sunk neatly into the hole. She connected on a long chip shot to save par.
She went on to lead the Cardinals to a second-place team finish in the small-school division. Katlyn Weber (45), Sera Bebon (46), and Madison Newton (60) combined with Morgan Newton’s 41 to post a team score of 188. Lena-Winslow won with a 171.
Lena-Winslow was led by Callie Raders (37) and Carrie Raders (38), who had the low individual scores among the small-school squads.
Oregon finished in fifth with a 202. The Hawks were led by Abi Scheidecker’s 42, while twin sister Ali Scheidecker carded a 44. Prophetstown, led by Taylor Kelley, finished with a 230.
It was a strong day for Erie, which was playing in its first competition of the season. Head coach Matt Newton was especially proud of his team, and liked the way they played in their first outing.
“They did a great job,” he said. “It shows a lot to be able to go out there and play the way they did, once we got going. There was a mental aspect there that is important.”
Strong storms forced the tournament to be pushed back from its original start time of noon to just after 2 p.m. Several teams left after several coaches meetings during the long delay. Lightning continued to postpone the start time even as the heavy rains let up.
Workers at the course even had to sweep off standing water on several greens before play could resume.
LaSalle-Peru, Rockridge, Mercer County, and Orion decided not to wait until 2 and left.
Rock Falls junior Liz Lego had been working on her drives during the summer months, hoping to correct a slice off the tee. She said her work hasn’t completely fixed the issue, but on some drives, she boomed straight shots.
One in particular came on No. 12.
“It was a pretty good shot, and it came on my last hole,” Lego said. “It was a long drive, and it actually went straight. That always feels good.”
She ended up bogeying the hole, but still finished with a team-low 49 on the tough back nine. The Rockets, playing in the large-team division, carded a 252, with Nicole Arduini’s 65, Payton Law’s 68, and Adison Wolf’s 70 factoring in.
Sterling finished with a 310. Rachel Spencer led the way with a 65.
“It was a lot of fun,” Lego said. “This is our home course, and to be able to play against all of these schools instead of just practice rounds is nice. It means golf season is really here.”