By Marc Zavala

The showing at its home invite was to Grand Island Senior High girls golf coach Jeremiah Slough’s liking.

The Islanders had two medalists to help them finish third with a 365 Friday at Riverside Golf Club.

Lilly Zoellner took fifth with an 83, while Paige Pehrson was 11 with an 88. Lincoln Southwest won the team title with a 327, while Southwest’s Kate Strickland was the overall individual medalist with a 72.

Grand Island was five strokes behind runner-up Lincoln Pius X and beat Kearney by seven strokes.

“I thought we would have a pretty good chance of doing well with us playing on our home golf course,” Slough said. “We’ve been knocking on the door for a top two. We’re pretty balanced with Kearney and Lincoln East, who finished fifth, and to edge them out for third place and giving Pius a run for their money for second place, we feel pretty good with what we did today.”

Zoellner struggled a bit on the front nine as she had six bogeys. She was more consistent on the back nine where she came away with seven pars. Slough said her short game is what she struggled with the most with.

“Lilly really hit the ball very well, except she really struggled on the greens,” Slough said. “She’s struggling a little bit with her putting but once she gets that figured out, she’s got a chance to start breaking 80. If she does that, she should be a consistent medalist for us.”

Slough said the same thing about Pehrson as she finished with 12 total bogeys. He said Pehrson did a great job of fighting through.

“Paige has been really steady for us,” Slough said. “She hits a lot of fairways and greens but today, her driver was just a little bit off. She found herself in the rough a lot. She fired a lot more bogeys than what she’s capable of but she grinded through a pretty tough round and still scored a medal for us.”

Sam Hansen was the third Grand Island golfer with a 94, while Hailey Kenkel and Sadie Pehrson each fired a 100 and 106, respectively.

Slough said the third-place finish should bring some confidence for the Islanders, but feels they need to improve on their short game.

“We’re continuing to make progress. We are good from tee to green as we have five girls who can get to that very well. We just need to figure out around the girls as we’re averaging about 40 putts apiece,” Slough said. “If we lower that number to the 35 range, you are knocking about 20 strokes off your team score.”

Grand Island will be back in action at the Lincoln Southeast Invite Thursday at Highland Golf Course.

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Sports writer, mostly in volleyball, cross country, wrestling and track and field, for the Grand Island Independent for seven years.

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