The long, cold winter can impact anyone's golf game, and high school golfers are no different.

For the Rapid City Stevens girls' team, the winter rust has been shaken off a little quicker than some others in the state.

The team that finished fourth in the state last season won the Northern Hills Quad at Boulder Canyon Country Club Tuesday with a score of 175. Sturgis finished second with 205, Spearfish finished third with 206 and Rapid City Central came in fourth with 220.

Stevens' Natalie Young, who finished third at state last season, led the field by shooting a 38 during the nine-hole round.

"I was hitting my irons pretty well," Young said. "My short game needs some work, and I was putting pretty well, so it was good."

According to Stevens coach Dean Henzlik, the short game has been a team-wide issue early in the season. Boulder Canyon has a reputation for being a difficult course for chipping and putting, which Young said is helpful early in the season.

"It's beneficial because it gives us that practice and allows us to know what we need to work on," she said. "In the future, it'll be a threat for us if we can get our short game up to par."

Stevens had three players in the top five — Young, Emmy Sundby, who tied for second with a 40 and Elyse Owen, who finished fourth with a 41.

Henzlik said those three are the leaders of the team because of their experience, and it's made this group a very fun one to coach so far.

"It's a fun game and when you have fun personalities, good things happen, and that all stems from the experienced girls on our team," he said. "Natalie, Emmy and Elyse are all really fun-loving girls and it makes for a good atmosphere for everybody to feel good about coming to practice."

Henzlik said April has been used for finding the other three players who are going to keep scores low for Stevens.

"I have hopes for some good things to happen," he said. "We're certainly decent with our first three spots, and those other three spots, we're trying to push along."

Chelsea Powles from Sturgis tied with Sundby for second with a 40, the best nine-hole round of her career.

Sturgis also took second and finished one stroke ahead of Spearfish for third, which Scooper coach Colin McCampbell was happy with, although he knows his team can be better.

Like most teams, he believes the short game could use some improvement.

"I saw a coupe of shots inside 50 (yards) where we weren't quite confident with the club we were going to hit," he said. "We had a couple of chips where I thought we could have hit it closer, but it's early in the season. These girls are excited about playing golf and they're a fun group to coach so hopefully we keep chipping away."

He said he thinks his team is close, it was a matter of one or two bad holes that kept the Scoopers away from the Raiders.

"Obviously we had Chelsea (Powles) shoot a 40, which is her personal best, and I think she's a kid who has the ability to shoot that kind of score or lower, so that was good to see," he said. "I thought some of our other girls had some nice holes, but doubles and triples add up pretty quickly even if you only have a couple of them."

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Although Spearfish didn't have a golfer in the top five, the entire team finished within seven strokes of each other. Jenna Geist led the way with a 49, Rachel Jensen finished with a 50 and Lyric Williams had a 52.

"I have three girls who have a little experience and they're all very similar, so it doesn't surprise me when they golf right in that grouping," Spearfish coach Eric Ligtenberg said. "That's kind of their ability. They can go a little lower but that's going to be right around their season average. Hopefully they can improve now that they have some more practice in."

To say the Spartans are young is an understatement this season. Spearfish doesn't have a junior or senior on the roster.

What it lacks in experience it makes up for in numbers, with 22 Spartans on the roster this season.

"We're kind of inexperienced, but that's still no excuse. It's just that as they gain experience, they'll get better," he said. "We have big numbers, we're probably one of the biggest teams in the area. If they can keep at it and work during the summer, they'll see improvements."

Although Central rounded out the field, the Cobblers had plenty of bright spots. Erin Trohkimoinen finished fifth with a 42 and Makenzie Maher shot a 50.

"Erin had a pretty good round, Makenzie had a good day. I saw good shots from all four of our girls today," Central coach Jeremy Noyes said. "Erin and Makenzie have a little experience, but everyone else is pretty new. It's going to take some time and patience, but hopefully we can find some girls to give us a score by the end of the year."

The pace of the game is something Noyes said he knows some of the inexperienced players will need to work on this season.

"A lot of it is being comfortable out there, and the girls who are new might get in a hurry because they don't know the right approach to things," he said. "They play the first few meets a little scared, but they end up finding their comfort zone."

Stevens and Central will be right back it Thursday for the Raider Invitational, while Sturgis and Spearfish go to Hart Ranch for the pre-region tournament Thursday. 

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