By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Missing nationals by one spot provides powerful motivation as Brooke Dagner returns to Sonoma preparing for a hopeful breakthrough season with Lewis-Clark State College.
Earning all-conference honors again as a sophomore, the former Sonoma Valley golf standout looks to lead the Warriors to the NAIA National Championships. Losing only one top player, the Warriors are positioned for a postseason run.
“All of us are a lot more focused,” Dagner said. “We want to work hard and make it to nationals next year.”
Ranked in the nation’s top 25 throughout the season, Lewis-Clark’s third-place finish in the Frontier Conference left the Warriors just short of the national tournament.
Dagner did her best to get Lewis-Clark to the finals.
“I was a lot more consistent this year,” she said. “What helped me a lot was my putting and short game.”
Strong off the tee, Dagner with teammates was determined to slice into shots needed to reach the cup.
Chipping drills demanded hitting hoop targets from 100 yards and in — repeatedly.
Putting practice had players doing 100 before starting practice rounds — and 50 more to finish the day.
“It certainly made me realize that can make the difference between a good round and a bad round,” Dagner said.
Fitness was another factor in Dagner lowering scores over her second season at Lewis-Clark. Playing 36 holes the first day of tournaments — a 10-hour effort — demands far more than high school rounds.
“I was more mentally and physically prepared for playing those rounds,” Dagner said. “I was in a lot better shape.”
Staying on her game this summer, Dagner is playing — and working — at Sonoma Golf Club. When not tending to the range, cart barn or other tasks, Dagner puts the ball in play.
Posting a 79 average this past season, Dagner is often good on the golf course.
With steady improvement her first two years playing NAIA competition, Dagneris confident she will continue lowering her scores and moving up the rankings.
“I’m more relaxed,” she said.
Earning second-team All-Conference honors a second consecutive season, Dagner has even higher hopes for Lewis-Clark approaching her junior year.
“We want it bad. We just missed it last year,” she said of the national tournament. “I’m excited.”