By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
Bixby seniors Natalie Gough and Rachel Eckert will have the privilege of playing college golf together since both have signed with Oklahoma City University.
Family atmosphere is something both girls presently experience with the Lady Spartans and they sense that to be the case at .
“Honestly, the coach is just awesome,” says Eckert, who is Bixby’s No. 2 (golfer in rotation). “() Coach Marty (McCauley) is one of the most amazing guys I have ever met, and he is an amazing coach as well. The girls there are super-welcoming just like they are here. I went down there last semester to stay with them and get a feel for it, and they treated me like I had known them my whole life. Just being around them really sealed the deal for me. It’s a great school too.”
“I have visited a lot of other schools and talked to their coaches and half the time, the team wasn’t as close, or they just weren’t as friendly,” says Gough, the Lady Spartans’ No. 1 player. “The coach, (McCauley) made me feel welcomed and important. He also talked about team bonding and stuff they do and that made me want to go there more.”
Both Gough and Eckert have also gotten to know some of the current members on the team.
For now, they are focused on making great things happen on the links for the Lady Spartans in their final year.
Gough was Bixby’s highest placer at state last season, taking fifth. She contributed to the Lady Spartans winning the Westwood tournament March 26 in Norman, carding 70 strokes.
“The distances on the course were around 4,800 yards or so,” Gough says. “It was a fairly open course, and it wasn’t too hard if you could play it right. We placed the ball in the correct spot.”
Both Gough and Eckert believe that if everything falls into place, Bixby could finish on top in the Class 6A girls state tournament come early May in Bartlesville.
“I think we have a really great chance,” Gough says. “We have played against other schools this year that have shown competition. We’ve either come close with a few strokes behind, or we’ve won by a few. I think if all our (golfers) play well, we could win state for sure. We’ve been working hard at it. It would be good to win our senior year.”
Both girls believe, as they compete for a state title, that Jenks and Edmond North are the top contenders.
“In the tournaments we have played in, Jenks beat us by three at Muskogee Country Club, and Edmond North beat us at our tournament by three also,” Eckert says. “But at the tournament (March 26 in Norman), we beat Edmond North by three. It’s still early in the season and we still have room to improve, but if we can make sure our top three players, which is Natalie, myself and Bailey Benton (No. 3), use the ability we have to shoot in the 70s and our fourth and fifth players shoot in the mid-to-low 80s, then I think we can definitely win state that way.
“The team that we have, everyone is so close,” Eckert says. “They have always made sure that everyone feels welcome. The bond we have together is so awesome.”