GREENFIELD — The philosophy never changes. It’s been the same the last 13 years of Gregg Greene’s tenure as New Palestine head girls golf coach.
The key to team success hinges on progression — individually and collectively.
“Our whole plan is when we start out, we keep working and working, so that by the time we get to September, we’re ready for the conference and the state tournament,” Greene said. “Right now, we’re on that path.”
At the Hancock County Tournament on Tuesday, the Dragons kept stride with their ambition, winning their third straight team title with a nine-hole score of 174 at Hawk’s Tail of Greenfield.
Greenfield-Central was second as a team with a 209. Mt. Vernon placed third with a 228, and Eastern Hancock finished with a 235.
The Dragons earned four spots on the five-person All-County Team, but despite each of their five golfers posting a 50 or better, they weren’t content.
Annaliese Fox, who shot a third-best 41, immediately went to the driving range after completing her round, in mild annoyance of her plus-40 tally.
Izzy Gray shot a 46, the tournament’s fourth-best score, but she couldn’t resist from replaying the final three holes in her mind, the ones she said slipped away.
“She’s probably disappointed with that 46 because prior to that she was only 2-over,” Greene said. “She was hitting the ball well and rolling in some putts, so it was a good day for her. I’m happy with it, and the team is, too, but they all want to improve.”
New Palestine senior Mackenzi Black shot a 1-over par 37 to earn medalist honors, and while she was pleased with the team’s championship, she wanted a few holes back, too.
“She bogeyed her last hole,” Greene said. “That’s what she wanted to talk about. But that’s what motivates her. She always sees things she could have done better and she works at it, and it shows. That’s why she’s going to go play golf at the next level.”
Black, who has verbally committed to IPFW, according to Greene, fired an ace on the same course three days prior as the Dragons won the New Palestine Invitational title with an 18-hole score of 348.
Black, the Dragons’ No. 1B golfer shot a 75 during the invitational and posted a 1-under par 35 on the same course in 2016, the same season she qualified for the state finals as an individual.
This year, she has bigger plans.
“I think this really helps with confidence going forward for the team,” Black said. “We have conference coming up, and its out here, too. And it’s our home course, so we know it pretty well.
“We wanted to win county, but then also conference and sectional is the biggest one. If we could make it out of regional, that would be amazing.”
The last time the Dragons advance to the state finals as a group was their first in 2014 after a third-place showing at regional.
At 6-1 in dual matches this year, and now winning back-to-back tournaments, the unranked Dragons are pushing toward their goal.
“Izzy has started playing better again, and Regina (Olsen) had I think her best score all year. And she barely missed a putt for 49 on her last hole,” Black said. “That’s really good. If you’re getting better as we move forward, you’re moving in the right direction.”
Olsen tied with Dragons teammate Abby Belgin with a 50, earning the final All-County spot via a tiebreaker. Greenfield-Central’s Lindsey McCord shot a 39 for second-best overall to make the All-County team.
“We want to defend every title from last year,” Greene said. “We defended Saturday at our invite, and then we defended this one as well. And Greenfield played really well on Saturday, so I was a little concerned.”
The Cougars placed fourth at the New Palestine Invitational and had three golfers post sub-100 scores. Caroline Gibson, who shot a 91 on Saturday, turned in a 55 at the county tournament.
Greenfield-Central’s Haley Hoagland finished with a 52, tying with Eastern Hancock’s Lucy Cochard for the seventh-best score in the tournament. Mt. Vernon’s Lilly Hampton was sixth-best at 51.
“We talked before, anything can happen in this game,” Greene said. “We’re getting some really good play out of some girls and some consistent play out of those girls. That is helping. But we still have to improve to make in the state tournament.”
The Dragons have a pair of duals and a three-way with Hamilton County powerhouses Hamilton Southeastern and Westfield before attempting to defended their second of three team titles at the Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet on Sept. 9 on their home course.
A win at HHC would extend their run at three straight. A potential sectional crown in mid-September would push their dominance to four consecutive.
“I told Sarah (O’Brien), my assistant, the most dominating team I ever had won all five county spots. This one almost did,” Greene said.
2017 Hancock County Tournament
Team Scores: New Palestine 174, Greenfield-Central 209, Mt. Vernon 228, Eastern Hancock 235
Medalist: Mackenzi Black, New Palestine (37)
All-County Team: Mackenzi Black (NP) 37, Lindsey McCord (GC) 39, Annaliese Fox (NP) 41, Izzy Gray (NP) 46, Regina Olsen (NP) 50
New Palestine: Mackenzi Black 37, Annaliese Fox 41, Izzy Gray 46, Abby Belgin 50, Regina Olsen 50.
Mt. Vernon: Lily Hampton 51, Morgan Hear 55, Ava Hampton 58, Savannah McKemmie 64, Hailee Fulton 67.
Greenfield-Central: Lindsey McCord 39, Haley Hoagland 52, Caroline Gibson 55, Phoenix Breese 63, Rose Gerard 64.
Eastern Hancock: Lucy Cochard 52, Chloe O’Neal 60, Daly Pelger 61, Jocelyn Duncan 62, Isabella Parker 73.