Lauren Muller will remember her senior season more for personal growth than personal accomplishment.

Sure, Muller added more achievements to her already impressive Blue Springs girls golf resume – a second Suburban Big Six championship, a fourth trip to state – more than enough to make her The Examiner’s Girls Golfer of the Year for the second straight season. But this was more of a struggle than her breakout junior year.

That struggle, though, may not have been such a bad thing.

“I will always think that I can do better, but not doing as well as I was hoping also taught me to work harder and that it’s not going to come easy,” Muller said. “It will just push me to do better in the future.”

Muller began the year with a seven-stroke victory in the Independence Invitational at WinterStone and later added a second-place finish in the Rich Myer Invitational at Longview Lake’s Fred Arbanas Golf Course. She defended her Big Six championship, also at Winterstone, by shooting an 89.

Muller won the 2018 Big Six title with a 2-over 75 at Adams Pointe, but she never matched that score her senior year. She still played well enough to make it through districts and sectionals for a fourth trip to the Class 2 state tournament, but even she admitted her game wasn’t quite the same.

“I don’t think it improved. If anything it wasn’t as well as it used to be,” Muller said. “The competition this year wasn’t what it used to be, and I think I kind of slacked off and took advantage of that sometimes.”

Muller faced much stronger competition at state and a stiff challenge from Mother Nature. Playing in icy, blustery conditions at Bolivar’s Silo Ridge, she shot an 86 the first day and struggled through a 98 on the second. After finishing tied for 16th and just missing all-state honors last year at Swope Memorial, Muller ended her final trip to state in 55th.

“I think I got in my own head and the only thing I was thinking about was like everyone was kind of paying attention and watching me and seeing how I was going to do,” Muller said of her second round. “And the weather wasn’t very good. There really isn’t an excuse.”

Even as Muller struggled, Blue Springs girl golf coach Jill Courter still saw her dedication to the game. It’s a dedication that hasn’t waned since Muller’s father gave her her first set of clubs when she was 6 years old.

“Lauren really put a lot of work in the offseason during her career as a whole,” Courter said. “I know she really wanted to come out of her career as an all-state player, but it just wasn’t in the cards.”

Muller isn’t wasting any time taking that dedication to another level. After graduating last Thursday, she will play this spring for Metropolitan Community College-Longview with the hopes of going on to a four-year school.

The lessons on perseverance and battling adversity she learned last fall will certainly go with her.

“I feel proud of myself and I made it through so much no matter how hard things would get,” Muller said. “It was a great experience; it was a good learning experience.”