POPLAR GROVE – Rock Falls' Ellie Wasson was able to beat the windy conditions and the rest of the field at Timber Pointe on Wednesday to win the Big Northern Conference girls golf championship.
Wasson, who was 10 strokes behind champion Bella Heintzelman in a 2019 BNC meet shortened to nine holes by the rain, ended up three strokes better than Heintzelman on Wednesday, and one stroke better than the runner-up, Rockets freshman Megan Fiorini.
"A lot went right [Wednesday] and it was good to see since [Tuesday] was kind of rough against Dixon," Wasson said. "Under the circumstances [Wednesday] with the wind, I think I shot a very good round, and I had very good shots in every place."
Playing at Timber Creek in a dual with the Duchesses on Tuesday, Wasson carded a 49, 11 strokes behind Fiorini and eight shots behind Heintzelman.
She turned things around for the conference meet thanks in part to strong play from her putter.
"Lately I've been doing a lot better with putting," she said. "Practicing that a lot more and it's turned out pretty good lately, just going to the putting green after practice, practicing after meets, whenever I can."
On No. 14, a short par-3 over some water which plays 79 yards from the red tees, Wasson reached the green but left herself with a long putt, leaving it short, but allowing her to tap in for par.
She was then able to steer clear of some trouble on the next hole, a 427-yard par-5, landing her drive in the fairway just beyond a creek bisecting the fairway. She then found the fairway again with her second shot, and reached the green with her next shot.
Fiorini was right behind her with an 89, shooting a 44 on the front and a 45 on the back.
"I think my putting could have been better," she said. "I missed a few short ones, but the wind was really strong today, so I did the best I could."
She ran into some trouble on No. 13, a 222-yard par-4 with a bunker guarding the green. She landed in that bunker, then her chip sailed over the green.
"I had a few doubles that shouldn't have been there, mostly bogeys," she said.
In the same playing group as Fiorini was the reigning conference champion, Heintzelman, who shot a 91.
"I had a few doubles. I was missing a lot of three-, four-footers for par," she said. "Overall, just wasn't playing very well."
She was playing well on No. 12, a 305-yard par-4 where she chipped from the fringe to within a couple of feet of the pin and had an easy putt. On No. 13, she landed her drive in the fairway shy of the bunker and chipped on, but left herself with a long putt.
She finished in fourth place.
Also in that group was Winnebago's Kyra Simon, whose front-nine 43 was tied for the lowest on that stretch with Oregon's Ava Hackman. But Simon shot a 47 on the back nine to drop to third behind the two Rock Falls players.
The Rockets also got a 105 from Lauren Tupper, a 110 from Taylor Brown, a 111 from Brooke Danreiter and a 121 from Madison Thatcher.
Dixon got a 92 from Katie Drew, who carded a 47 on the front nine and a 45 on the back.
"It was rough, the conditions were rough, but I just tried to stick it out through the whole round," she said.
A mid-round driving rain did not last long, but high winds made players rethink club selections throughout the day.
Drew double-bogeyed three of the four par-5s on the course.
Dixon also got a 96 from Olivia Rick, and a 114 from Nina Baratta, who closed out her round with a chip from the bunker on No. 18 close to the pin, setting herself up for an easy tap-in putt. Lauren Fagan shot a 116 and Olivia Brooks shot a 119.
In the race for the team title, Winnebago shot a 376 to beat Rock Falls by 16 strokes. The Duchesses were a stroke behind the Rockets in third with a 393, and Byron shot a 399 to claim fourth.
Oregon took fifth, shooting 407.
Hackman carded a 94 to pace the Hawks, shooting a 43 on the front nine and a 51 on the back nine to finish in 10th place individually.
Oregon also had a 102 from Cassie Nyderek, a 105 from Mia Trampel, a 106 from Lena Trampel, a 110 from Helena Holden-Fox and a 111 from Tori Marchetti.