By KEVIN HARRIS
For the first time in six years, the Floyd Central girls’ golf team will be competing in the IHSAA State Finals.
On Saturday at Country Oaks Golf Club, the 11th-ranked Highlanders accomplished the goal they have coveted all season as they earned the state finals berth by finishing third at the Washington Regional. Floyd finished with a team score of 328. No. 10 Martinsville won the regional with a 317, followed by No. 7 Evansville North in second with a 320.
The top three teams and the top five individuals on non-advancing squads qualified for state, which will be held next Friday and Saturday at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin.
It will be the fourth time in program history that Floyd Central’s girls will participate in the state finals. Along with the 2007 state finals, the Highlanders played in three consecutive state tournaments from 1973-75.
“I’m thrilled to death for them,” said Floyd Central coach Lenny Hartlage, who was the medalist at the IHSAA boys’ golf state finals in 1983. “They finally got something they deserved.”
All five Highlanders registered scores between 79 and 89 on the par-72 course.
Senior Scarlett Hartlage — the coach’s daughter — recorded Floyd Central’s lowest score with a 7-over-par 79. The younger Hartlage started her round with a 1-over 37 on the back nine.
Junior Morgan Stanley had the Highlanders’ second-best score with an 82, while Floyd Central freshman Sydney LaDuke fired an 83. Highlander senior and last year’s News and Tribune Area Player of the Year Eliza Hudson rounded out the team scoring with an 84.
Hudson will be making her second consecutive trip to the state finals after qualifying for the tournament as an individual last season. Floyd Central sophomore Jessica Ingram shot an 89.
“We didn’t have superstar scores today, but we hung in there,” Lenny Hartlage said. “Even though we didn’t play our best, it was good enough to qualify.”
The Floyd Central mentor thought the performances by Scarlett Hartlage — the Highlanders’ No. 3 golfer — and LaDuke, who is Floyd’s No. 5 golfer, were critical in reaching state.
“They went in there and played their best today,” Coach Hartlage said. “Scarlett shot a 79 on a course with incredibly tough greens.”
Lenny Hartlage also praised his top two players in Hudson and Stanley for their mental toughness despite both having difficult rounds.
“Morgan and Eliza turned a potential 88 and 89 into an 82 and an 84,” he said.
As for next week’s state finals, Coach Hartlage thinks his golfers will play more loose after feeling the pressure of earning the state berth at Saturday’s regional.
“I feel like we got through it today. They wanted it so bad that they put a lot of pressure on themselves,” he said. “But I think we’ll play well at state.”
New Albany finished 10th with a team score of 362. Junior Heidi Steinert led the Bulldogs with an 82, followed by teammates Haley Roth and Chloe Watts with an 88 and 89, respectively. Also for New Albany, Alyssa Kane shot a 103 and Taylor Frame carded a 105.
Corydon Central placed 11th with a 367. Marie Rothrock posted the Panthers’ top score with an 86, while teammate Kennedy Nash had an 88. Also for Corydon, Cortlin Engleman scored a 94, Sidney Capelle shot a 99 and Lauren Murphy had a 106.
Neither of Providence’s golfers advanced to state. Pioneer sophomore Colleen Geldermann shot a 95, while teammate Nicole Kruer finished with a 106. Silver Creek sophomore Lily Smith also came up short of a state berth with a 99.
At Country Oaks Golf Club, Montgomery, par 72
(Top three teams and top five individuals on non-advancing squads qualify for the IHSAA State Finals.)
Team scores: Martinsville 317, Evansville North 320, Floyd Central 328, Evansville Memorial 331, Jasper 331, Vincennes Rivet 331, Bloomington South 342, Bedford North Lawrence 342, Gibson Southern 358, New Albany 362, Corydon Central 367, Castle 371, Seymour 383, Washington 384, Bloomington North 387, Salem 396, Vincennes Lincoln 403, Forest Park 413.
Medalist: Cherise Otter (BS) 73*.
Top five individuals on non-advancing teams: Otter 73, Elizabeth Orr (Springs Valley) 74, Paxton DeHaven (Se) 75, Annie Getzen (J) 76, Payton Meeks (VR) 77*.
Floyd Central: Eliza Hudson 84, Morgan Stanley 82, Scarlett Hartlage 79, Jessica Ingram 89, Sydney LaDuke 83.
New Albany: Heidi Steinert 82, Haley Roth 88, Chloe Watts 89, Alyssa Kane 103, Taylor Frame 105.
Corydon: Kennedy Nash 88, Marie Rothrock 86, Cortlin Engleman 94, Sidney Capelle 99, Lauren Murphy 106.
Providence: Colleen Geldermann 95, Nicole Kruer 106.
Silver Creek: Lily Smith 99.
* — won in playoff.