By KEVIN HARRIS
Last year, the Floyd Central girls’ golf team fell one stroke short of winning the sectional title at Valley View Golf Club in Floyds Knobs.
On Thursday at Old Capital Golf Club, the 11th-ranked Highlanders made sure they captured the sectional championship with no problems this time around.
Floyd Central fired a team score of 308 to collect its first sectional crown since 2010 at the Corydon Central Sectional. The host Panthers finished second with a 357, followed by two-time defending sectional champion New Albany with a 370. Silver Creek placed fourth with a 375, followed by Providence (395), Borden (433) and North Harrison (519).
The top three teams and top three individuals on non-advancing squads qualified for the Washington Regional on Saturday, Sept. 28 at Country Oaks Golf Club in Montgomery.
Highlanders’ senior Eliza Hudson, who won a one-hole playoff for medalist honors over teammate Morgan Stanley, says the sectional championship should give her team some momentum in their quest to advance to the IHSAA State Finals in two weeks.
“We’re so excited to be going into regionals just feeling good about things,” said Hudson, who qualified for state last season as an individual. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to make it out of there and make it to state. This is our year to do it.”
Floyd Central coach Lenny Hartlage expected his players to shoot in the 300s on Thursday.
“It’s not surprising at all to be honest with you,” Hartlage said. “I thought there was a chance we could break 300. But this is a tough course. There is a lot of water and a lot of hazards. But we’re playing well. If I can get my [Nos. 3-5 golfers’ scores] down a little bit where they should be, I think we’ll be pretty tough [at regional]. I’m real proud of them.”
Hudson and Stanley each shot a 1-over-par 73, as they were the only two players in the sectional field that carded scores in the 70s. They were three strokes lower than their teammate Jessica Ingram, who placed third in the individual standings with an 80.
“They didn’t make any mistakes,” Hartlage said about his top two players. “They just played consistent. They kept the ball in play. They hit the greens and they didn’t have any three-putts.”
Hudson and Stanley had their playoff on the par-4 18th hole. Hudson secured sectional medalist honors for the first time in her career with a birdie, while Stanley got par.
Hudson used a 3-wood to tee off on No. 18 to avoid a water hazard. On her second shot from 103 yards out, which was uphill with the wind blowing in her face, Hudson used an 8-iron to smack the ball 2 feet from the hole.
“Going into it, I was worried to hit a driver because I didn’t want to get into the water,” said Hudson, who won a playoff for the first time in her high school career. “I decided that I would hit a 3-wood, and I didn’t hit it very well at all. Going into the second shot, I was not very happy. My second shot was a hard one, but I stuck it really close to the pin and that was the best feeling.
“I was glad that it was my teammate that I was playing against in the playoff. It made it a little more fun and less nerve-racking.”
Senior Scarlett Hartlage rounded out the Floyd Central scoring with an 82, while freshman Sydney LaDuke chipped in an 85.
“I was proud of Sydney because that was probably the biggest tournament she’s been in,” Lenny Hartlage said. “For her to come in as a freshman and break 90 was great. That should be a big boost of confidence for her.
“Scarlett is very disappointed because she’s broken 80 a couple of times this year, and she figured that she should be down in the low to mid-70s around here. But she had several three-putts that kind of got her off to a bad start. But it is what it is. You’re not going to get five of them to play great every day.”
Junior Heidi Steinert, who placed second in last year’s sectional, led the Bulldogs with an 85. New Albany senior Haley Roth ended up with an 86, followed by Bulldog sophomore Chloe Watts with an 89. Also for New Albany, Taylor Frame shot a 110 and Alyssa Kane had a 111.
New Albany coach Rick Belcher said his troops struggled with chipping and putting throughout the sectional.
“Our putting was atrocious today. We struck the ball pretty well, but we made a lot of three-putts,” Belcher said. “That’s the key to any round of golf. You’re not going to hit every green on the golf course, but you’ve got to get it up and down. You’ve got to get it near the hole and at least make a bogey. We had far too many [double and triple bogeys] today.”
Despite his team not winning a third straight sectional title, Belcher lauded Watts’ round.
“That was her best tournament round, so that was awesome for her to get into the 80s finally,” Belcher said.
Kennedy Nash paced runner-up Corydon with an 81, while teammate Marie Rothrock shot an 84. Also for the Panthers, Cortlin Engleman carded a 92, Sidney Capelle had a 100 and Lauren Murphy fired a 101.
Silver Creek sophomore Lily Smith earned a trip to regional as the top individual qualifier on non-advancing teams with an 89. Providence sophomore Nicole Kruer secured the No. 2 qualifying spot with a 90.
A playoff that featured Pioneer sophomore Colleen Geldermann, Borden senior Tina Fink and Dragon freshman Liv Schmidt determined the third and final qualifying berth. All three golfers shot a 92 in regulation.
On the second hole of the playoff, Geldermann made par on the par-4 No. 1 hole to earn the final regional spot, while Fink had a double bogey.
Both players made bogey on the first playoff hole at No. 18, while Schmidt bowed out after settling for a double bogey.
CORYDON CENTRAL SECTIONAL
At Old Capital Golf Club, Corydon, par 72
(Top three teams and top three individuals on non-advancing squads qualify for the Washington Regional on Sept. 28.)
Team scores — Floyd Central 308, Corydon Central 357, New Albany 370, Silver Creek 375, Providence 395, Borden 433, North Harrison 519.
Medalist — Eliza Hudson (FC) 73*.
Top three individuals on non-advancing teams — Lily Smith (SC) 89, Nicole Kruer (P) 90, Colleen Geldermann (P) 92*.
Floyd Central — Hudson 73, Morgan Stanley 73, Scarlett Hartlage 82, Jessica Ingram 80, Sydney LaDuke 85.
Corydon — Kennedy Nash 81, Marie Rothrock 84, Cortlin Engleman 92, Lauren Murphy 101, Sidney Capelle 100.
New Albany — Heidi Steinert 85, Haley Roth 86, Chloe Watts 89, Alyssa Kane 111, Taylor Frame 110.
Silver Creek — Charlotte Seaton 99, Smith 89, Liv Schmidt 92, Kaela Roberts 95, Emily Christman 107.
Providence — Geldermann 82, Brooklin Grantz 119, Alexa Wilson 115, Mary Ann Fitzpatrick 98, Kruer 90.
Borden — Tina Fink 92, Sarah Potter 101, Lexi Marsh 122, Mackenzie Smith 118.
North Harrison — Jalisa Jones 113, Brittany McCarty 128, Payton Biddle 141, Rachel Biddle 137, Brianna Stickler 147.
Charlestown — Marisaa Knoebel 97.
Clarksville — Miranda DeKorte 107.
Jeffersonville — Jiffy Bishop 115, Madison Gavin 132.
South Central — Destiny Avis 137, Brooklyn Woertz 152, Adrianna Bowen 167.
* — won in playoff.