VALPARAISO | "Gym rats" Jennifer Gough and Brooke Fullenkamp have played a big part in the success the Valparaiso girls golf team has had this season.
After helping the Vikings to their first sectional title in seven years, the duo has their sights set even higher.
Gough, Fullenkamp and their Times No. 1 Vikings will try to win their first regional title since 2006 at Saturday’s Lafayette Jefferson Regional at Battle Ground.
Valparaiso coach Bill Miller described the two juniors as gym rats because of the effort they put in during the winter, spring and summer to prepare for this season.
“There are gym rats for basketball, and they’re my gym rats for golf,” he said. “They’re out here all summer, all winter. We’ve seen their scores get quite a bit lower in the last two years. Their scores have definitely spoken for themselves this year.”
Playing in the No. 2 spot, Gough’s average for 18 holes this season is 80. She has recorded five rounds in the 70s, including a 76 at the Jefferson Invitational to start the season and a 77 at the DAC Tournament at the Brassie.
Fullenkamp has posted an 18-hole average of 82.9 on the season. She placed second at the Rensselaer Invitational with a season-best round of 78, and she shot 80 at the Center Grove Invitational.
“Jen and Brooke have a lot of pressure on them and they know this because we’re not a real deep team,” Miller said. "We’re a strong team. We have five solid golfers, but we’re really counting on our scores from our No. 2 and No. 3.
“We really count on these two to come through for us and so far they haven’t disappointed.”
The pair worked together since the end of last season to get ready for this year. They hit balls together all winter and would work on putting in Gough’s basement, and they carried that through to the summer.
“We figured out what we needed to work on and where our game needs to be,” Gough said. “That’s what we’ve put so much work into. All of us have pushed each other to get where we want to be.”
“We stepped up and it just clicked this year,” Fullenkamp said.
Thanks to rounds of 76 and 84 from Gough and Fullenkamp, respectively, the Vikings posted a 315 at the Jefferson Invitational in August at Battle Ground, and that confidence will be a big help now.
“There’s going to be more pressure on us because it is regionals and the weather will probably be completely different, but I think it will definitely help our confidence,” Gough said.