ANDERSON — Four strokes was all the difference on Saturday at the IHSAA Girls Golf Regional Championship held at The Edge golf course in Anderson.
As a team, New Palestine finished four shots behind Delta for the third and final team qualifying spot, and Greenfield-Central’s Sydnie Wherry finished four shots back of the last individual qualifying spot. Mt. Vernon rounded out the Hancock County participants with a 398 and ninth-place finish.
The Dragons score of 369 earned them fourth behind Hamilton Southeastern (306), Noblesville (318) and Delta (365).
“We were a lot closer than we expected, and we didn’t have a great day,” New Palestine head coach Sarah O’Brien said. “But now that they saw how close they were, they’re already talking about next year so that’s exciting.”
It was a consistent day for New Palestine from start to finish with all five girls shooting similar scores on both the front and back nines.
With all the teams and spectators crowding around and waiting for the remaining scores to be posted, it was senior Zoe Nelson coming in with the final group of the day. Following a tough score of seven on the par five 18th, she posted a final score of 89.
Beating Nelson by one shot and leading the way for the Dragons was Lauren Appleby with an 88.
Lily Kirchner (95), Katie Kelley (97) and Hanna Beller (104) rounded out the scoring for New Palestine.
Just two weeks ago, this same New Palestine team lost the Hoosier Heritage Conference tournament to Delta by 21 shots. For O’Brien this showed the improvement they’ve made the entire season.
“We were talking about our improvement all season. We were a lot closer to Delta than we were at the conference,” O’Brien said. “I think the girls are starting to get an idea that they really can play with anybody. They’re certainly seeing that they are close.”
Mt. Vernon, fifth at conference, showed improvement, too. For a young Mt. Vernon team, the 398 was a season best and one shot better than their sectional score.
Isabel VanHeel led the win with her personal best score of 86. Following her were Natalie Miner (97), Kylie Hyde (106), Aubrey Trittipo (109), and Kalin Wallpe (115).
Although a disappointing outcome for both teams, they both return nearly every player for next season.
“This gives them a lot of confidence,” O’Brien said. “They’ve had a taste of this now and they’ve had the experience. We will probably add this to our goal list next season.”
For Greenfield-Central’s Wherry there might not be a next season, but she couldn’t be happier with the way her senior season ended.
“I definitely had a lot of fun. To end it here and make it that one extra step after sectionals was exciting,” Wherry said. “My team is incredible. They make it so, so fun.”
Wherry ended her season meeting all three of her goals — winning the Hancock County, HHC and sectional individual tournaments.
“It was great having her on the team just being that example for the younger kids and working hard,” Greenfield-Central head coach Russ Wiley said. “She didn’t even play varsity her freshman year and now she was knocking on the door to state her senior year. She just worked hard to get to that level.”
Wherry’s putter was the main culprit for her final score of 84. After hitting 17 fairways and being near every green in regulation, she just couldn’t get that part of her game going.
“Overall I don’t think I hit the ball bad but I just couldn’t putt,” Wherry said. “I don’t know if I just wasn’t focused 100% or if my line was off. I think it’s just a mixture of things that kind of went wrong.”
“She hit it really well today,” Wiley added. “Hit almost every fairway and green in regulation but just couldn’t finish it off today. That happens sometimes, but she played well.”
Adding to the pressure for Wherry on Saturday was the thought that there were only two qualifying spots for individuals. And in the group in front of her was back-to-back state champion Macy Beeson, of Lapel, who grabbed one of the spots with a score of 72.
“I definitely thought about that multiple times. But I came into today and said I’m going to play how I play and if I don’t make it I can’t be upset. And if I do great, that’s exciting. But I’m not going to hold anything against me because there are only two spots,” Wherry said. “Every year there’s always girls sitting at home that probably deserve to be there and they don’t get to play. If I make it that’s great, If I don’t that’s alright, too.”