GREENFIELD — The 2013 Hancock County Girls Golf Championship was not Cassie Rooks’ finest moment.
A nine-hole 54 put her 19 shots behind the leader, tied for 17th overall out of 20 competitors.
It was a performance out of whack with the New Palestine junior’s natural talent. Tuesday, Rooks – and her squad – flashed their potential to capture first-place honors at the 2014 county tourney at Arrowhead Golf Course.
Rooks’ even-par 36 was good enough to edge teammate and two-time defending champ Abby Poole (37) for the individual crown.
Joined by fellow Dragons Makenzi Black (40) and Carly Jones (42), Rooks and Poole guided New Palestine to a school-record 155. The Dragons easily out-paced two-time defending county champ Mt. Vernon (172), as well as Greenfield-Central (184) and Eastern Hancock (197).
“We’ve been waiting for this kind of performance,” said NP coach Gregg Greene, whose core group is in its third year together. “We also hope to build on toward conference in a couple weeks and sectionals right after that.
“But, yeah, we’ve been waiting on this for a couple years. It’s a good day for the Dragons.”
New Palestine took home its first county trophy since 2005. The unit has never captured a sectional title; Mt. Vernon also happens to be the two-time defending sectional champ.
With another effort like the one displayed Tuesday, the Dragons could take home the coveted postseason crown.
Rooks, Poole, Black and Jones nearly made the All-County Team an all-New Palestine contingent.
Mt. Vernon junior Molly Yee took third place overall with a 39 to make her way onto the all-county (top-five) team. Bailey Fleming added a 43 for the Marauders, who will host the sectional at Old Oakland on Sept. 20.
New Palestine’s fifth-best score was a 47 from Sarah Rose.
“I’m hoping that their confidence will pick up from this,” Greene said. “Because this was a really good day.”
The New Palestine veteran coach added that Greenwood will be among the sectional contenders.
“We lost by two to them at The Legends earlier this year, so we know they’re going to be good,” he said. “And Mt. Vernon will be right there, especially at Old Oakland.
“So, we’ll see how the next two-and-a-half weeks go. We’d like to finally claim a title for once.”
Greenfield-Central’s Makenzie Fisk, who advanced out of the sectional individually last year, carded a 42 at county Tuesday, and Megan Garner took a 45 for the Cougars. Fisk, a junior, lost a toughest-hole handicap tiebreaker to NP’s Jones for the final all-county spot.
Rachel Boaz (47) and Ryley Burkhart (48) paced Eastern Hancock, which broke a nine-hole school record with the 197.
But there was no more consistent player on the Arrowhead front nine than Rooks, who credited a calm demeanor with her steady play.
“I had three birdies in a row and that helped a lot,” Rooks said. “And then I just had a positive attitude the whole time.”
Rooks, playing in the No. 2 group, started her round on Arrowhead’s par-4 No. 3. She bogeyed, but bounced back to birdie two straight par-3s, followed by the third birdie at the par-5 No. 6.
Greene said he’s seen a difference in his standout junior.
“She’s done a great job with attitude for the year, trying to stay even when the round may not being going as well as she hoped,” the coach noted.
“Today, she had a couple bad holes but everything else was good. It was the attitude that kept going.”