May 25—OSKALOOSA — Viola Welsh didn’t really break down in tears.
She also didn’t pump her fists or shout out in celebration. She left that to her Fairfield High School golf teammates.
Welsh was all smiles last Wednesday after earning her one and only trip to the Class 3A girls state golf tournament after finishing fifth at the Class 3A, Region 3 tournament. Welsh’s consistent play on the course allowed the Fairfield senior to avoid major trouble through the front nine at the Pheasant Ridge Golf Course on Thursday, posting a 41 to place among the top 20 golfers in the tournament before finishing with a 49 on the back nine, posting a 90 in Cedar Falls leaving Welsh in a tie for 24th overall with five different golfers including Washington teammates Mallary Johnson and Haley Mitchell.
No matter where Welsh finishes on Friday, odds are she’ll have the same response. Even if Welsh shoots the round of her life and finds a way to bring home a medal, it’ll be up to others to do the celebrating for her.
“I wouldn’t even know how to act,” Welsh said. “It’s just not what I would do.”
Welsh was nearly joined by the rest of her Fairfield teammates at the 3A state tournament. For the second straight year, the Trojans posted a solid postseason score bringing in a team score of 372 at Edmundson Golf Course last Wednesday finishing fourth overall at the regional meet coming up 20 strokes short of Lisbon for the final state team berth.
“That’s 16 strokes better than our season average,” Fairfield head girls golf coach Joe Kruzich said. “I honestly don’t know what else I could have asked the girls to do. We went out and gave it our best shot. Macy (Rayburn) goes out in 44 on the back nine to give us a chance. Viola shoots a 39 on the back nine to do what she had to do. You saw some things happen that were outstanding.
“Everyone played great. I wish it was the top four teams that could have gone,” Welsh added.
While Welsh was competing in the 3A girls state golf tournament, Centerville senior Gracie Moorman was competing in the first round of the 2A state tournament at the American Legion Golf Course in Marshalltown. Moorman, who had to battle to the final hole at Stone Creek Golf Course in Williamsburg to earn the final individual qualifying spot, will head into the final round at state on Friday tied for 51st overall after posting an opening round 101.
“You just have to push through sometimes,” Moorman said. “I tried to keep a positive attitude. My putting has been what’s pushed me through some of the tough tournaments I’ve been a part of this year.”
For Kruzich, who will coaching his final round on Friday with Welch before stepping aside as Fairfield head girls golf coach, the biggest positive to take away is the improvement the Trojans as a team have made in a short amount of time. Welsh joins Myah Twohill as senior members of the Fairfield girls golf team to qualify for state over the past two years while the Trojans as a team have placed in the top four of regionals each of the past two years while finishing as the Southeast Conference runner-up to Washington, who enters the final round at the 3A state girls golf tournament tied for third overall just nine shots behind state tournament leader Gilbert.
“We had a banquet last (week) and talked about how, in 2021, we had our first tournament and 463,” Kruzich said. “This year, we had a 388 average. We end this season with a 372. There’s people that would look at that and think these girls have been playing for years. That’s the improvement they’ve had in two years. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Moorman will tee off her final state tournament round on Friday morning in Marshalltown at 8:30 a.m. One hour later, Welsh will tee off in the 3A tournament on the 10th hole at Pheasant Ridge.
No matter the outcome, Welsh is looking forward to one final day as a Fairfield golfer with Kruzich as her head coach.
“Kruz is the best. He’s the kind of guy you’d want to spend those long suburban rides to meets with and spending practices with,” Welsh said. “I wouldn’t want it to be with anyone else.”
— Scott Jackson can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on [email protected].