INDIANAPOLIS — It’s do or die time for area girls golf teams.
The 2015 IHSAA state tournament kicks off Saturday with New Palestine, Greenfield-Central, Mt. Vernon and Eastern Hancock all playing at the Old Oakland Golf Club in Sectional 16 action. The 11-team field will tee off about noon.
Last year, at the same course, Dragons senior Abby Poole earned medalist honors after carding a 73. New Palestine took first with a team score of 341, followed by Greenwood (348) and Pendleton Heights (366).
Mt. Vernon’s Molly Yee (85) and Briley Wills (89) and Greenfield-Central’s Makenzie Fisk (86) advanced without a team as the Cougars and Marauders finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
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The Royals were eighth with a 475.
Saturday, the top three teams, as well as the top three low individuals without a team, will advance to regional play next Saturday at the Edgewood Golf Course in Anderson. Golfers will begin play at 9 a.m.
Despite the loss of Poole, the Dragons picked up right where they left off in 2014, winning county and conference titles this season en route to a 15-4 record.
Sophomore Mackenzie Black has been the most consistent golfer for New Palestine. She won county at Royal Hylands just weeks ago and followed that up with an all-conference performance at Arrowhead last weekend.
At the 2014 sectional, Black finished second on the team with a round of 86. Seniors Cassie Rooks and Carly Jones recorded a 90 and a 96 to seal the win, giving New Palestine ample returning experience.
“Hopefully, it (last year’s success) will give them confidence to know that they can do this,” head coach Gregg Greene said. “It’s a big deal, and they all know it’s a big deal. The sectional is do or don’t. And if you don’t, it’s over.”
Greene added the difficulty of advancing could increase with a solid Mt. Vernon squad playing on its home course.
“The Marauders are a different team at Old Oakland,” Greene said of his competitor.
Mt. Vernon bested New Palestine 182-183 Tuesday at home in its first win of the season against New Palestine.
The Dragons eventually advanced to the state finals in 2014 and finished 12th overall with a two-day score of 740.
The Marauders were on the outside looking in last year at Old Oakland. However, with the addition of a stellar freshman, Mt. Vernon may just have enough depth to advance this year.
The addition of rookie Charley True could be the answer in thrusting the Marauders into regional play next week as Yee and Wills, both seniors, have been consistent all season, giving Mt. Vernon a talented trio at the top of its scorecard.
“The seniors are excited but relaxed for Saturday,” Marauders head coach Caleb Zelencik said. “That calming attitude can do wonders to help our freshmen prepare for the sectional. Charley has played in many big stage tournaments, so I’m not too worried about her nerves heading into Saturday.”
True and Yee made the all-county golf team this season and all three made all-conference last week.
Zelencik added that Mt. Vernon is currently playing some of its best golf of the season.
“We have played well at home this week (180 on the East nine and 182 on the South nine at Old Oakland),” he said. “We have our focus on shooting something comparable to that. That should give us a chance to advance.”
The Marauders currently sit at 14-5, a record Zelencik is happy with given the lack of upperclassmen.
“With our lineup of two seniors and four freshmen, we didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “This season has exceeded our expectations, and the girls have all come along way to get to this point in the season. I’m excited to see where we finish on Saturday. It should be a lot of fun.”
The Cougars could taste regional play at last year’s sectional.
Greenfield-Central, who has shown flashes of greatness this season, was less than 20 strokes away from advancing to the Lapel Regional in 2014.
And after bringing back their top five players, the Cougars are primed for a regional berth.
“We’ve had a great year so far,” coach Russ Wiley said. “I’m hoping that we can advance as a team and have a good showing at the regional.”
Fisk, who made the all-conference squad last weekend at Arrow Head, has again been the top golfer for Greenfield-Central this season. Megan Garner was right behind Fisk with a 90 last year and has continued to be a reliable No. 2 player.
Lindsey McCord carded a 94 at the 2014 sectional while Kim Miles (113) rounded out the team’s scoring.
The Cougars, too, are no strangers to Old Oakland. However, Wiley said most teams shoot about 10 strokes above their average at the golf club.
“Old Oakland is a different type of course than what we usually see,” he said. “It’s long with fast greens and is overall very challenging.”
The key for Greenfield-Central will be getting every player on the same page Saturday. At the Hancock County meet on Sept. 1, the Cougars finished in front of the Marauders. A week later at the HHC meet, Mt. Vernon edged Greenfield-Central for a third place finish.
“We just have to play up to what we are capable of playing,” Wiley said.
The Royals enter 2015 sectional play with an inexperienced group of upperclassmen.
Senior Abby Fout has led by example all season, leading Eastern Hancock in just about every meet. According to coach Chelsie Kelly, Fout has been the only girl to stay on the team for her entire high school career.
In fact, she even recruited several girls on this year’s team.
At the 2014 sectional, Fout finished fourth on the team with a 125. Rachel Boaz led the Royals with a 112 as Haley Carlton (116) and Riley Burkhart (122) also contributed.
Last week at the Mid-Hoosier Conference meet, Eastern Hancock finished sixth (488) out of the seven-team field. Indian Creek won with a 374.
Fout led the way with a 104 as Emiley Carlton carded a 120. Alexis Young finished with a 123 while Logan Young added a 141. Emma Lewis finished fifth on the team with a 146.
In case of poor weather, a make-up date for the sectional has been set for Wednesday.
Teams: New Palestine, Mt. Vernon, Greenfield-Central, Eastern Hancock, Shelbyville, Greenwood, Knightstown, Pendleton Heights, Whiteland, Triton Central and Southwestern (Shelbyville).
Location: Old Oakland Golf Club is located at 11611 E. 75th St. Indianapolis, 46236.
Time: Groups will tee off at approximately 12 p.m.
Advancement: The top three low team scores, as well as the top three low individuals without a team will advance to regional play next week.