Century is quickly becoming the big, bad beast of West Region girls golf.

 The Patriots won their fourth tournament in as many outings on Tuesday, and they did it with authority. Century outdistanced runner-up Minot 320-329 in the Mandan Invitational at Prairie West Golf Course. All four of Century's scorers finished in the top 10.

 Freshman Hannah Herbel set the pace for champion CHS, carding a two-over-par 36-38 -- 74 to lead the pack by four strokes. She filled out a clean scorecard that featured 14 pars, three bogies and a birdie. Herbel, whose foursome started on hole No. 16, ran off 11 straight pars, beginning with No. 1.

 CHS coach Lindsay Reede said such a string is remarkable even for Herbel, who is nothing if not steady.

 Herbel agreed that Tuesday's round was "extremely" consistent.

 "Usually I'm a little more exciting than that. ... I usually have a few birdies and a few bogies," she said. 

 Not that there's anything wrong with pars on Mandan's 5,338-yard layout.

 "I'll take pars. Pars are a good thing," Herbel observed.

 Herbel has taken medalist honors in three of Century's four tournaments, missing only at Dickinson on Monday. Williston's Carrie Carmichael won by two strokes at Dickinson.

 Century, Minot, Williston, Mandan and St. Mary's comprised the top five on Tuesday. Williston shot a 333, followed by Mandan at 369 and St. Mary's at 377. Bismarck and Legacy came in with scores of 381 and 392 for sixth and seventh places, respectively.

 Herbel, Carmichael and Becca Tschetter of Minot were the only golfers to break 80 at Prairie West. Carmichael logged a 38-40 -- 78 and Tschetter posted a 36-43 -- 79.

 Reede said she was pleased to see the nine-stroke margin over Minot, but said it's not necessarily indicative of improvement.

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 "I'd like to think of it that way, but we still have some work to do. ... I think we're on the right track," she said.

 Reede credited the Patriots' fast start in large part to those players who put in hours on the course over the summer.

 "The Herbels were out there ... and I thought Riley Crothers worked hard during the summer," she said. "I believe your score will reflect how much you played in the summer, and those girls have showed that.

 "I'm very lucky to have girls who take it seriously like that and prepare for the season."

 "Golf is a sport where the saying 'practice makes perfect' really comes into play," Reede added.

   With scores of 75, 73, 76 and 74 in her first four outings, Herbel said she is reaping the fruits of summer tournaments accompanied by plenty of practice time.

 "I worked at it. I practiced and played a lot over the summer ... and came into the season pretty ready to go," she noted. "If you play tournaments in the summer it gets you ready."

 As has been the case most of the spring, Hannah Herbel, Leah Herbel, Riley Crothers and Riley Ball did the heavy lifting for the Patriots on Tuesday. They carded scores of 74, 82, 83 and 81, respectively. 

There's still an upside, too. Ball is the only senior in the quartet.

The next gathering of the West Region teams is next Tuesday with the BHS-CHS Invitational at Tom O'Leary golf course. Yardage is 4,122 from the red tees, presenting an opportunity for high school golfers to score well.

 "It depends how you play. If you play smart golf and take advantage of the course, you can score well," Reede said. "It's not necessarily easier, but it's more forgiving."

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