After opening the season with a fourth-place finish last week in Omaha, the Gering girls golf team returned to the Panhandle to capture its first championship of the new campaign at the Sidney Invitational on Tuesday at Sidney’s Hillside Golf Course.

The Bulldogs fired a season-best 338 to finish on top by five strokes over Scottsbluff, which placed second with a 343.

In the span of just a few days, Gering head coach Jessica Boswell said her squad made a number of positive strides.

“There were definitely some improvements,” Boswell said. “We were able to cut nine strokes off of our score. The girls looked a little more comfortable today on a course that they’ve played several times as opposed to a brand-new course like last week.”

Three of the five Bulldogs improved their scores from the first event. Four Gering golfers medaled in the top 10.

“There were still some rough parts to everyone’s games and they still could have cut some strokes off,” Boswell said. “They all finished well. A 338 for us is a decent score and it’s better than last week.”

Madi Schlaepfer led Gering’s charge by placing third with a round of 80. She also carded an 80 in the opener.

Avery Mitchell followed right behind Schlaepfer in fourth with a season-best total of 83. Ali Boswell also lowered her score by finishing fifth with an 85. Kelsey Le was the Bulldogs’ other medalist as she placed eighth with a 90. Tayber Meyer finished with a 99 for Gering.

Scottsbluff, which was seeing its first action of the season, also ended with four top-10 medalists. Emily Krzyzanowski led the way by placing second with a 76. She finished just a shot behind the individual champion Harly Hiltibrand of Ogallala, who won with a 75.

Carson Hauschild was next in line for the Bearcats. She finished sixth with an 86. Halle Shaddick finished right behind in seventh with a 90 and freshman Anna Kelley placed 10th with a 91. Also for the Bearcats, Lehla Ehler shot a 96.

“We’ve got a lot of good golfers,” Scottsbluff head coach Brock Ehler said. “A 343 is a good score right away. Our girls did well and even our JV scores were solid.”

Krzyzanowski and Hauschild are the only two full-time returners from last year’s Bearcat varsity. Krzyzanowski won the B-4 district title last season as a freshman. Hauschild is Scottsbluff’s lone senior.

“We have some new girls in there,” Ehler said. “They’re young and they showed they care about golf by playing all summer. That’s what it takes to be good. Carson is doing a great job as a senior leading them.”

Kimball’s Payton Wise also medaled in Tuesday’s tournament. She placed ninth with a 91.

Gering golfers claim title in Sidney; Bearcats’ Krzyzanowski shoots 76 to finish second Gering and Scottsbluff distanced themselves from the rest of the teams in the field. Ogallala finished in a distant third with a 372. Sidney ended fourth with a 410 and McCook took the fifth spot with a 420.

Many of the same teams will return to action at the Scottsbluff Invite on Tuesday at Scotts Bluff Country Club.

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