GREENFIELD — State finals appearance? Check. County title? Check. Conference championship …
There’s not much New Palestine’s girls golf team hasn’t accomplished the past few seasons — besides a win at the Hoosier Heritage Conference meet.
However, with a 358 Saturday at Arrowhead Golf Course, the Dragons can check another item off their bucket list. New Palestine claimed the program’s first HHC golf title in 20 years, topping defending champion Yorktown in a fifth-player tiebreaker.
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Hancock County champion Mackenzi Black, a sophomore, led the Dragons with an 80 on the day as each of New Palestine’s top-five players scored a round of 100 or lower. Black also made the all-conference team as a freshman.
“I think it’s really cool,” Black said of the Dragons’ HHC championship. “Our team really wanted to win today. Yorktown has won for a long time.”
Yorktown, who has held a stranglehold on the HHC crown during the past several seasons, finished with two golfers on the all-HHC team. Reece Malapit took top honors after finishing with a 73 (par 70). Teammate Holly Hanes tallied an 87.
But with both the Dragons and Tigers finishing with 358, the fifth golfer’s score came in to play. Luckily, Payton Hill was right behind Cassidy Harp (99) with a round of 100 to seal the win.
Cassie Rooks, a 2014 county champion, earned her fourth straight all-conference team selection after shooting an 89 for New Palestine. Carly Jones was solid, as well, finishing with a 90.
Dragons coach Gregg Greene, who took over the program in 2004, said this moment has been a long time coming.
“The course played harder today than some times when you come up here,” Greene said. “If you said the winning score would be a 358, I would have been surprised. Everyone was right on their averages, though.
“They got a good taste for what it’s like to win last year. We were sectional champions for the first time ever, boys or girls.”
One area of emphasis for New Palestine after winning the county meet Sept. 1 was putting. However, that was not the problem on a windy Saturday of golf.
“We were better (at putting),” Greene said. “As I looked, I thought we played everything smart. We didn’t give up strokes by doing things you really shouldn’t be doing. I would say we lost most strokes by not hitting the greens. The wind was a factor, and that makes a difference in what club you’re going to hit.”
Mt. Vernon, which finished third with a 373, had the most representatives on the all-conference squad. Freshman Charley True finished second overall after carding a 79 in her first HHC meet. Seniors Riley Wills (84) and Molly Yee (86) finished fourth and fifth overall, respectively, to also earn a spot on the all-HHC team.
“I’m super proud of the three all-conference girls,” Marauders head coach Caleb Zelencik said. “I thought they played super well. It says a lot when we have three girls on the all-conference team. It says a lot about them and how they battled the cold.
“We need to get that fourth score down. If we do that, we’re right there with New Palestine and Yorktown.”
Greenfield-Central, which beat Mt. Vernon just over a week ago at the county meet at Royal Hylands, fell within two strokes of the Marauders. The Cougars finished with a 375, edging Shelbyville (379) and Pendleton Heights (385).
Makenzie Fisk led Greenfield-Central with a 91 while Megan Garner shot a 92. Lindsey McCord was right there, too, finishing with a 94.
New Castle (391) and Delta (419) rounded out the overall conference standings.
Now, all eyes shift towards the postseason.
New Palestine, Mt. Vernon and Greenfield-Central will all partake in sectional action this Saturday at the Old Oakland Golf Club. In 2014, the Dragons advanced to state and the Marauders qualified for regional play.
2015 All-Hoosier Heritage Conference Golf Team
1. Reece Malapit, Yorktown – 73
2. Charley True, Mt. Vernon – 79
3. Mackenzi Black, New Palestine – 80
4. Riley Wills, Mt. Vernon – 84
5. Molly Yee, Mt. Vernon – 86
6. Holly Hanes, Yorktown – 87
7. Megan Simmons, Pendleton Heights – 89
8. Cassie Rooks, New Palestine – 89
* Team champions – New Palestine – 358