Muscatine girls golf coach Tom Randleman constantly repeated the same message to his golfers leading up to the start of Thursday's dual meet against Davenport Central: Have fun.
It wasn't an easy sell given the temperature never reached 50 degrees, but Randleman didn't want his golfers feeling any pressure playing in their first competition of the season and first full round of golf this spring.
What he received in return was a 205-270 Muskie victory in the nine-hole competition, led by a 4-over 40 from Paige Miller.
A good start, but just the beginning of what Randleman hopes is a season of continual improvement.
"For the first meet, you have to be happy," Randleman said. "The main thing about today was we got to play. We're only going to get better, we're going to continue to get better, but it was just great to get the girls out and walk nine holes. That was the beauty of today."
Randleman said earlier this week that his team will be relying on Miller's score quite a bit this season, and the senior delivered with a medalist performance in the season opener.
"I was a little rusty here and there, but for the first meet I was pleased with how I did," Miller said. "My short game went pretty well today."
Randleman felt like Miller's round could have been even better had she avoided putting from an awkward stance while trying to avoid stepping on an opponent's putting line and instead marked the ball on the 13th hole.
Despite finishing with a double bogey, Miller shot just 2-over for the rest of the round.
Ellie Howard added a 53, Ragan Carey a 54 and Sarah McKillip a 58 to round out the scoring for the Muskies.
"Our goal is to get under 200, but when you have Paige shooting a 40 and my other three scorers were in the 50s, that's a good thing," Randleman said.
The 53 was just over a stroke off from Howard's nine-hole average in 2017 (51.60), and Carey quickly moved past a slow start on the first three holes to finish with the third best round of the evening.
"I started off really, really bad," Carey said. "I was getting all worked up, but I finally got myself together. I changed it up and I just didn't take any practice swings, so then I was making solid contact with the ball. I was pretty happy with the round. I know what I need to work on for the rest of the season."
Randleman knew heading into the season he could count on Miller, Carey and Howard to consistently score for him. The biggest question was what kind of production he would get from his fourth, fifth and six golfers, who had no varsity experience heading into Thursday.
While McKillip was slotted in the fifth spot, the junior shot the fourth-lowest round of the evening and made an early case to be playing in the second group for Muscatine.
But most importantly for the Muskies is they were able to get their first full round of golf in of the spring season, even if it was during a cold and overcast evening at Geneva Golf and Country Club in Muscatine.