GREENFIELD — In year’s past the weather has been anything but predictable.
From pop-up showers to torrential downpours, the New Palestine girls’ golf season opener has traditionally been a question mark.
Not this time, Dragons head coach Gregg Greene joked, while peering up at clear skies overhead on Thursday afternoon.
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Instead, the Dragons took full advantage of the conditions, winning their first match of the 2017 season 186-222 against Southport.
New Palestine sophomore Annaliese Fox shot a 2-over par 39 to earn medalist honors, while senior Mackenzi Black followed with a 43 during the team’s home opener.
“We never know if we’ll get this one in, so it’s nice to actually get this one in,” Greene remarked on his team’s win at Hawk’s Tail of Greenfield.
“I didn’t really have a score in mind. I just wanted them to play the back nine, which we don’t play a whole lot, smart, and I think that’s what they did.
“A 186 ended up being pretty decent.”
Fox, who won both the individual Hoosier Heritage Conference and Hancock County titles as a freshman, came out strong en route to 60-40 split over the back nine.
She finished with three pars, four bogeys and back-to-back birdies on her first two holes.
“She’s good. With her strong start, I think that can continue,” Black commented on Fox’s day. “I think it can continue at Prairie View (this Saturday), and that can definitely help us.”
Black tied for 37th overall during last year’s state finals at Prairie View in Carmel. In the season opener, the senior admittedly struggled with her short game, but she is eager to improve when the team resumes at Saturday’s State Preview Invitational at Prairie View.
“I think we’ll be pretty good this year. We have a big tournament coming up, so that will be important for confidence to see where we place against teams that will probably be in state,” Black said. “I actually practice there quite a bit. I really like that course. It’ll be nice to be back there and obviously hope to get back in a month or two (for state).”
If the Dragons make a push to the state finals as a team this season, depth will play a factor. Sophomore Izzy Gray did her part in the opener, carding a 51 for the team’s third-best score. Freshman Abby Belgin fired a 53, while sophomore Rachel Purnell finished with a 57.
“That’s out of the gate. We hope to improve from there, of course, and that’s going to be what we continue to work to do,” Greene said. “(Annaliese) and Mackenzi play all summer long in various tournaments, so I expected them to come in and be ready to go.
“We had some other girls that participated in a few tournaments. As that continues to increase in the numbers that they play, we’ll have those girls shooting in the mid-to-low 40s right out of the gate just like them.”
The goal is sub-100 through 18 holes, Greene emphasized, especially as the season progresses and the team attempts to defend their county, conference and sectional team titles.
Last fall, the Dragons captured their third straight sectional championship. Their HHC and county team titles stretched their run to back-to-back.
“We’re trying not to get too ahead of it,” Black commented on the team’s quest at defending all three. “If we play good, then I think we have a good chance.”
New Palestine 186, Southport 222
Medalist: Annaliese Fox, New Palestine (39)
New Palestine: Annaliese Fox 39, Mackenzi Black 43, Izzy Gray 51, Abby Belgin 53, Rachel Purnell 57, Regina Olsen 60.