CENTERVILLE – History was made on Tuesday at the Appanoose Country Club, according to Matt Kovacevich.

It wasn't an amazing shot or a low round that the Centerville head girls golf coach was eluding to. It was the demeanor of the Redettes who returned to the course for the first time since competing in the 2019 Class 3A girls state golf tournament.

"This is the first time I didn't hear one player complaining about the conditions or anything else out there on the course," Kovacevich said. "It's a fun group. These girls love golf. They love to come out and play. COVID-19 took that away from them for a full year.

"I'm just happy to be back out here on the golf course watching these girls do what they really like to do. That's probably the most important thing."

Centerville was able to celebrate a season-opening South Central Conference win on Tuesday, edging out Chariton by five strokes with an opening team score of 225. The Redettes did just enough to beat out the Chargers with four of the top eight individual scores with each of the top three Centerville golfers owning besting each of Chariton's top three golfers by a single shot over the opening nine holes of the season.

"We had several girls that were experiencing a varsity dual for the first time," Kovacevich said. "I'm proud of them to come out and battle under not-quite ideal weather conditions. I'm proud of them for how they handled things around the golf course and did the little things in golf that get overlooked."

Brynn Bailey, golfing for the first time since her freshman season, led Centerville to the close team win by earning meet medalist honors with a final score of 51. Bailey edged Chariton senior Tenley Williams and Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont junior Mandi Rist by a single shot, crediting a clutch putt on the sixth hole that ultimately helped keep Bailey in front.

"I was saved by a six or seven-foot putt that I somehow managed to get in the hole," Bailey said. "I had some pretty good shots out there, but there were also some shots I could have hit better. On the first hole, I needed four shots to get out of the sand. Chipping is definitely something I'm going to be working on, but overall it wasn't that bad for the first meet."

Rist produced the lowest score of the three EBF golfers that made their season debut on Tuesday with her round of 52. Rileigh Brink matched Centerville junior Emma Zintz with the fourth-best individual score, posting a 57 for the Rockets, while Jocelyn Vande Wall finished with a 64.

"I figured I probably finished somewhere in the 60s, so to find out that I posted a 52 is pleasantly surprising," Rist said. "I was pretty proud of my putting. My driving wasn't amazing, but it was getting better towards the end of the round.

"I'm very excited for the rest of the season, especially after having last year wiped out due to COVID-19."

Alaina and Gracie Moorman helped lock up Centerville's season-opening win with rounds of 58 and 59, respectively. Alyssa Koestner brought home a 65 for the Redette varsity squad while Bayleigh Stevens (66) and Sammie Zaputil (67) kept each other entertained over nine holes together representing the Centerville junior varsity.

For Kovacevich, that enjoyment is what days like Tuesday are all about one year after an entire spring sports season was wiped out by the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

"For everyone running track, everyone playing tennis and everyone playing soccer, those activities were taken away from those kids. No one wants to see that happen again," Kovacevich said. "To have these kids compete on a night like tonight is the most important thing."

Centerville tees it up again at the Appanoose Country Club next Tuesday, Apr. 6, hosting Davis County, Moravia and Wayne. EBF will hit the links next Tuesday as well, hosting PCM at the Oskaloosa Golf Course.

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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