ANDERSON — New Palestine head coach Gregg Greene could sense nervousness and anxiety.
En route to the girls golf sectional at Old Oakland Golf Course last season, Greene made an unplanned pit stop. He knew something wasn’t right.
The stop? At a playground. Greene made the girls play on the jungle gym, swing and have fun. He wanted them to relax.
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This season, however, Greene passed the same playground that helped his Dragons eventually make the 2014 state finals, finishing 12th overall.
His team was ready.
“I paid attention to what their behavior was on the bus,” Greene said. “They seemed to be OK (this year). Ultimately, we didn’t need to stop. I did think about it, though.”
Greene believes in a calm and cool demeanor on the golf course. His style has led the Dragons to the two most successful seasons in school history, winning back-to-back sectional titles and the first Hoosier Heritage Conference championship in 20 years.
“You can’t get to high or get to low,” Greene added. “What we try to do is play smart. The most important hole is always the next hole. If you beat yourself up too much, it makes play that next one that much more difficult.”
At this year’s sectional, the Dragons did just that, sweeping the field with a 358, 13 strokes ahead of Mt. Vernon (371). Whiteland also advanced with a 380, five strokes ahead of Greenfield-Central.
The Lapel Regional on Saturday at Edgewood Golf Course will be a different story. It features five teams ranked in the top 20 and 25 golfers who shot an 83 or better in sectional play last week.
No. 3 Columbus North, No. 5 Cathedral, No. 7 Hamilton Southeastern, No. 9 Fishers and No. 17 Noblesville will all be present.
The top golfers, based off last week’s sectional results, include Betsy Werner of Cathedral (70), Shelly Shafer of Hagerstown (72), Ciara McAcee of Hamilton Southeastern (73), Holly Anderson of Columbus North and Reece Malapit of Yorktown (74).
The Dragons were led by sophomore Mackenzie Black, who carded an 81 on a very difficult Old Oakland course, where scores are usually higher than normal. Senior Cassie Rook was close behind with an 88.
“We know the teams that are coming, we’ve seen them in tournaments,” Greene said. “We know that if we just play golf, we’re right there with them. That was pretty much our attitude last year when we went up (to Anderson).”
Mt. Vernon was led by freshman Charley True’s 74, which was good enough for medalist over senior teammate Molly Yee (80). Marauders senior Briley Wills tied with Rooks (88), allowing Mt. Vernon to advance. This is the second straight regional showing for Yee and Wills, who advanced as individuals in 2014.
Head coach Caleb Zelencik said the duo will greatly be missed once the season comes to an end, hopefully at the state finals.
“Molly and Briley have been great influences for our program,” he said. “They have such great energy and enthusiasm. Their contributions over the last four seasons have been awesome.
“This year has been great, because they have been so positive and accepting of the freshmen on the team. Their leadership will truly be missed.”
The pair has also been a part of two sectional championships and two county titles.
Greenfield-Central just missed the cut as a team but still has a representative at the Lapel Regional.
Senior Makenzie Fisk shot an 83 last week and will make her fourth straight regional showing Saturday. As a freshman, Fisk advanced with the team but has moved on as an individual the last three seasons.
Cougar coach Russ Wiley said Fisk will need to be in prime form to advance past one of the toughest regionals in the state.
“We will need to get really low to advance, definitely under 80 barring strange weather conditions and probably close to 75,” he said. “(It’s a) very talented regional, both as teams and individuals.”
Fisk has been Greenfield-Central’s season medalist for four seasons now, Wiley added.
“(She’s) been a great scorer for us for four years,” he said. “She’s been a great friend to those on the team and been someone that has provided a bunch of experience and leadership to others.”
Columbus North shot the lowest sectional round last week (309), followed by Hamilton Southeastern (321) and Fishers (324). Four other teams carded 350’s or below.
Lapel Regional at Edgewood Golf Course
Location: 519 Golf Club Road Anderson, Ind. 46011.
Time: Golfers will tee off at approximately 9 a.m.
Teams: No. 3 Columbus North, No. 5 Cathederal, No. 7 Hamilton Southeastern, No. 9 Fishers, No. 17 Noblesville, Columbus East, Greensburg, North Central, Lawrence North, New Palestine, Mt. Vernon, Whiteland, Yorktown, Muncie Central, Jay County, Richmond, Hagerstown, Franklin County.
Advancement: The top three teams, as well as the top five low individuals without a team will advance to the state finals at Prairie View Golf Course on Oct. 2-3.