ANDERSON — She hobbled to the tee and blasted it down the middle of the fairway. Limping while pushing a bag full of clubs, Mackenzi Black approached her ball and executed with perfection. Then came the long walk to the green — 18 of them, in fact.
The pain started as a “one or two” and ended approximately nine hours later as a “seven or eight.”
Fortunately for Black and New Palestine, draining a birdie and carding a round of 76 will usually help ease any amount of agony. Not even a noticeably bum ankle could stop her from advancing to the IHSAA State Golf Finals on Saturday.
Black, who has been battling the nagging injury for more than a week, was on fire at the Edgewood Golf Course. Despite losing power in her swing, Black finished with her best 18-hole round of the season.
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She needed just three shots on a par-4 tenth hole and finished with four birdies on the day. She actually got better as it went on, finishing with a 39 on the front nine and a 37 on the back.
“I really just wanted to play well today, because it’s super important,” Black said, who saw the school trainer before the meet to wrap her ankle. “I played with a friend (from Fishers) and it helped. I finished well but struggled from 12 to 14.
“(The pain) got worse as the day went on. Pushing through my swing was pretty tough. We went to state freshman year, and it was really fun.”
Dragons head coach Gregg Greene joked in response to what Black did well: “It would be quicker to talk about what she did bad. She hit the fairways and her ball striking was a lot better. It helped getting her taped up. She could feel everything.”
New Palestine finished fifth overall as a team with a score of 350, 24 strokes away from advancing to state. Annaliese Fox tallied an 85, while Izzy Gray finished with a season-best 92.
Fox carded an impressive 74 on a tough course last weekend at the Mt. Vernon Sectional at Old Oakland Golf Course.
With her and Gray, both freshman, the Dragons will return their top three scorers next season. Fox also completed the season trifecta earlier this year, winning individual county, conference and sectional titles to help New Palestine do so, as well.
Seniors Payton Hill and Cassidy Harp rounded out the team’s consistent scoring with a 97 and 98, respectively.
Columbus North won the team title (311) while Hamilton Southeastern (322) and Fishers (326) also advanced on Saturday.
“It’s good to finish with a better taste in your mouth from playing well,” Greene said of Gray. “Annaliese struggled putting. She ended up finishing strong. There are some days you just don’t hit anything.”
Fox immediately headed to the practice greens after her final hole on Saturday before scores were all collected, showing her desire to improve even after an impressive rookie campaign.
Black also finished with just two double bogeys at Edgewood, which were both on the front nine. On the same course last season, she fired a round of 82.
Black also won a Hancock County title last season and helped the Dragons win the team title, as well as conference and sectional crowns. Black finished with an 85 in sectional play last weekend at Old Oakland.
Mt. Vernon sophomore Charley True rebounded from a tough season’s end and snuck into the final spot with a round of 78 to earn a repeat trip to Prairie View Golf Course.
True added two birdies on the afternoon but had a triple bogey on hole No. 5. Last season, she finished 11th overall at state after storming onto the Hancock County golf scene as a freshman.
“She started out with a bad drive but improved early,” Mt. Vernon head coach Aaron Shewman said. “It continued to the back nine.”
True finished fourth in sectional play last week with an 89 after battling illness, which cost her a shot at a Hoosier Heritage Conference championship. However, with her length off the tee and experience at Prairie View — she also takes lessons there — True has as good a chance as any to earn a top-10 spot this weekend.
Greenfield-Central finished 17th on Saturday with a team score of 418. The Cougars advanced past sectional play despite losing their No. 1 golfer, 2016 graduate Makenzie Fisk, last season.
Lindsey McCord continued her consistent play and led Greenfield-Central with an 88 on Saturday while Megan Garner carded a 103. Amanda Edwards finished with a 106 and Rose Gerard a 121. Breese Phoenix also competed and shot a 135.
Garner and Edwards will graduate this year.
Prairie View Golf Course is located in Carmel (7000 Longest Drive). The two-day event will begin this Friday and Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Each team and individual will play 36 holes.
State Qualifiers from Lapel Regional
Mackenzi Black, New Palestine Junior
6th at Edgewood GC with round of 76
Charley True, Mt. Vernon Sophomore
8th at Edgewood GC with round of 78*
*Second state finals appearance
New Palestine, 5th – 350
Annaliese Fox, 85
Izzy Gray, 92
Payton Hill, 97
Cassidy Harp, 98
Greenfield-Central, 17th – 418
Lindsey McCord, 88
Megan Garner, 103
Amanda Edwards, 106
Rose Gerard, 121
Phoenix Breese, 135
Top 3 Teams
Columbus North, 311
Hamilton Southeastern, 322
Holly Anderson (Columbus North), 73