By ANDY HEINTZ
Courier sports writer
---- — OTTUMWA -- Whitney Dostal and Darby Patritto played a gargantuan role in the Ottumwa girls golf team's success this season.
The two girls, who have both finished first in a number of duals and invitationals, through their play; have helped point the Bulldogs' compass towards the National Lake Panorama Golf Course, which is nestled in the the small town of Panora, where the girls team will compete today and Wednesday in the Class 5A state championship. It's the Bulldogs second consecutive appearance at state as a team Patritto's third appearance in her career.
"She's led the team the entire season and she has more experience than anyone else and that will be a huge help for the girls competing for the first time," Ottumwa girls golf coach Stephanie Mishler said.
Dostal, providing a crucial springboard for Ottumwa's second place finish at regionals in Cedar Rapids, posted the top individual score of 82. Patritto also bolstered the Bulldogs final score by tying for fourth overall 87 strokes. The Bulldogs collective score at regionals was 362 strokes.
Aside from her season-defining victory at regionals, Dostal has amassed a number of other significant achievements, including taking first overall at the CIML Metro Conference meet in Des Moines, carding an 83. In addition, she claimed first place honors at the Osky Invitationals with a 41 and garnered a third place finish with a score of 79 at a Johnston Invitational filled to the hilt with quality golf programs. Plus, Dostal posted the the top score in duals against both Fairfield and Indianola.
"A lot of that comes with maturity," Mishler said about Dostal's improvement this year compared to her junior campaign.
The coach said Dostal has capitalized on the opportunity to put in the extra hours on the golf course that have helped her improve her game.
Meanwhile, Patritto has her own laundry list of accomplishments, including finishing atop the leaderboard at the Linda Bloom Invitational in Marshalltown with a score of 81, and taking first at a golf tournament in Des Moines at the Grandview Golf Course that featured the other golf teams in the CIML Conference, where she carded a 37. Patritto also posted an 84 at the conference meet in Des Moines, which ended up being good enough to earn her runner up status, while also claiming runner-up honors at the Oskalossa Invitational, where she carded an 81.
Other than the Bulldogs top two performers, the rest of Ottumwa's roster is filled by Abbie Budan, Hannah Lien, Callie Lawson, Shea Collett and Bailey Palmer. Budan has shown she has the capacity to post solid scores -- she shot the second best score against Indianola, finishing just three strokes behind Dostal with 44 strokes.
Collectively, the Bulldogs have amassed a wealth of achievements this season. Some highlights thus far include winning the Osky Invitational, the Bloom Invitational in Marshalltown, where they prevailed over venerable golf programs like Grundy Center and Grinnell; and the CIML Conference Meet. Other less spectacular, but still impressive accomplishments by the Bulldogs include dual victories over Fairfield and Indianola, a second place finish at the Cedar Rapids Kennedy Invitational, and a pair of third place finishes at the the Waukee and Johnston Invitationals.
"We're pretty excited right now," Mishler Monday. "We're going to play a quick round and try to be as physically and mentally prepared as possible for tomorrow. We're just going to approach this the same way we have approached every meet."
Since the state tourney is 36 holes long, Mishler said her players must resist the urge to get down on themselves after one bad hole.
"There is a lot of golf to be played," the coach said.
The other two area golfers who qualified for state are Albia's Cassie Crall and Kathryn Wilson of Oskaloosa. Crall will compete in the Class 3A championship, while Wilson will test her mettle in the Class 4A state tourney. Both tournaments will take place at the Ames Golf and Country Club today and tommorow.
To qualify for state, Crall tied for fourth in a Class 3A Regional final at the Lakeview Golf Course in Chariton with a score of 93 and Wilson tied for fifth in a Class 4A Regional golf course on her home turn -- the Edmondson Golf Course in Oskaloosa -- with a 90.