PORTLAND - The Sandy girls golf team continued to improve early in the new season, finishing fourth in the 2007 Reynolds Invitational at Broadmoor Golf Club in Portland on Monday, April 2.

Pioneers coach Molly Nealy knew coming off spring break that her team needed to focus on improving each player's individual game.

'I am pleased with fourth. We improved from our last tournament,' Nealy said. 'They played very well because most of the girls play little or no golf during spring break, so we played pretty well.'

Gresham won the tournament with a score of 399, followed by Barlow (407) and Grant (409). Sandy's girls scored 460 as a team to finish fourth. Junior Sierra Warner led the Pioneers individually with a 109, which tied her for thirteenth.

'I'm usually not very consistent, so I am very happy with the way I played today,' Warner said. 'I was trying to focus on keeping my head down and swinging through the ball and it was working pretty well today.'

Warner struggled from the tees, hitting the greens in regulation only once, but she kept her score down with consistent putting. Warner never three-putted the entire tournament.

'I tried to focus on sinking my putts and that felt very good all day which kept me steady through the whole match,' Warner said. 'I only putted once or twice on each hole today. That is a big step for me.'

Freshman Dalton Meade (112), sophomores Becky Van Ausdell (119), Jordan Shields (120) and Danielle Behrends (131) also competed at the match.

'This course played very long today,' Nealy said. 'I was expecting a little more (on the front nine) but it's early and we are improving.'

Barlow's Megan Miller finished first with a score of 82 followed by Grant's Michelle Chu (83), Gresham's Emily Slatton (87) and Barlow's Rachel Schmitz.

Sandy continued to improve during the tournament, scoring 232 on the front nine while shaving seven strokes off on the back nine.

'We always seem to improve on the back nine,' Nealy said. 'I think the girls get comfortable and warm up, which eases their nerves,'

Nealy also was pleasantly surprised by the play of freshman Meade, who was playing in only her second tournament. Meade started well - scoring 54 on the front nine - before struggling on the back nine with her swing.

'I was hitting behind the ball today and turning my head on my back swing,' Meade said. 'I'm not totally happy because I know I can do better.'

Nealy wasn't worrying, though.

'(Dalton) is a natural, amazing athlete, so her score is right where she should be,' Nealy said. 'She is learning the game and she is way ahead of where I thought she would be this early in the season.'

Nealy knows the season is going to get tougher and she will continue to focus on the getting the girls' skills honed in each tournament.

'We are going to work on club selection,' she said, 'and we need to work on our chipping and putting for the next match. The girls think they could have played better, but I am pleased with their scores, and improvement is starting to show already.'

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