NORMAL, Illinois — Rachel Hernandez and the rest of the UW-Stout women's golf team had one round of golf under their belts when they teed it up Saturday at the Kathy Niepagen Spring Fling.
And that was Friday at Ironwood Golf Club on a 60-degree day but in winds that blew 40 mph, which was tropical compared to what the Blue Devils encountered in Saturday's first round.
"(Saturday) was just a continuation of a nightmare spring season for the team," Stout coach Howie Samb said. "The conditions were brutal, 40 degrees, very foggy and a penetrating mist for the first two hours, then a bit of a break for a while, and then windy and raw at the end of the round with the rain starting to come again."
On top of two inches of rain that fell overnight? The Blue Devils coped the best that they could — riding a 4-over-par 76 from Rachel Hernandez to a 326 that left them 17 shots behind host Illinois Wesleyan (309), which led Huntingdon College by five shots entering Sunday's scheduled final round.
WIAC champion UW-Whitewater was tied for seventh at 329, UW-Oshkosh was 13th with a 348, Carthage was 14th with a 351 and Carroll was 18th with a 393.
Hernandez was tied for second place, three shots behind Illinois Wesleyan's Rylie Loux. Stout also counted an 82 from Marie Allo, an 83 from Madison McCambridge and an 85 from Alexa Filipiak, tossing Trystin Kluess' 86.
"Very trying circumstances for the team to try and post a good score due to the fact that our first day outside was (Friday), and we had 40 mph winds then," Samb said. "Several weeks of practice in our indoor facility, no matter how productive, can't prepare a team for what we faced today. With that said, our 326 was very respectable considering we gave up 12 shots to par on our last three holes."
Hernandez started on No. 6 with a bogey and then bogeyed her final three holes. In between, she had four bogeys and four birdies, the last two coming on Nos. 1 and 2 ahead of her three bogeys to finish as the weather turned sour.
"Rachel's 76 was outstanding given the circumstances and the fact she bogeyed the last three holes, Samb said "She didn't have her "A" game put she stayed positive, focused, and let the "grinder" in her take over to post a great score."
Allo and Filipiak were both flirting with sub-80 scores until troubles down the stretch. Samb said McCambridge offset swing troubles with a string putting round while Kluess played well in stretches but struggled on the greens.
"Hopefully we can get in the round (Sunday) and get the opportunity to play well in a tournament that has an outstanding field," Samb said.