FRIDAY FEATURE

Blend of youth and senior leadership driving Mountie golf success

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‘Open Arms.’

That’s how the three Southmont girls’ golf seniors describe how they’ve welcomed freshman phenom Addison Meadows.

Bailey Barker, Taylor Grino, and Macie Shirk have all improved their games, while the addition of Meadows has turned a competitive 2020 Southmont team into one of the area teams to beat in 2021.

“They’ve meshed real well,” Southmont coach Bill Whalen said. “They know they need each other to be successful. There’s been no jealousy or animosity. They’ve really got along and I’m very happy with the chemistry we have.”

There was some concern though.

Grino and Shirk were junior-varsity players as freshmen and sophomores — waiting their turn — while Barker returned this fall after joining the team last season as a junior. And here came Meadows, who has several tournament titles to her credit as a youth player in Indiana.

“I was concerned, because Taylor and Macie had to wait their turn,” Whalen said. “Two years before they really got into the top-5 because of that group we had, so I was concerned that they were finally going to get into the limelight and here comes this little freshman along that just shoots light out.”

Meadows hasn’t disappointed.

She owns the school record for an 18-hole round, firing a 73 at the Crawfordsville Country Club in the Mountie Invite in early August, and later fired a 34 (-1 under par) to break the 9-hole school record.

“We knew that Addison was coming and that she would be a big help,” Shirk said. “We wanted to step our game up and shoot better.”

As good as Meadows has been — Shirk has been just impressive.

The senior has shot a 38 to earn medalist honors on three occasions this fall.

“I’m very proud of her,” Meadows said of her teammate.

The duo has led Southmont to a 40-17 record to start the season and couple that with the improvement of Barker and Grino and junior Stella Snook and the Mounties this season are matching the 2019 team that was the best in program history.

That includes breaking the school record for a 9-hole match with a 160 on a Par-37 course in Oak Ridge.

“No, I didn’t,” Whalen said of expecting this years’ team to match 2019. “I was pleasantly surprised with the 160. They all just shot lights out.”

While the seniors knew Meadows would be the leader on the course from the start — the freshman isn’t shy about making sure the spotlight stays on Barker, Grino, and Shirk.

“That’s exactly something I wanted to keep alive,” Meadows said. “Even though I will set records and have success, I want the main spotlight to be on those three. It is their last year and they are leaving and I will have success for three more years, so it’s their time to shine.”

Shirk was a regional qualify last fall, and Meadows’ scores indicates she’s well on her way this season — but the discussion now is all about team success.

The Mounties have stacked up behind Lebanon twice already this season, but with the Sagamore Conference and sectional looming in coming weeks — they are determined to chase down the Tigers.

“We are not one bit scared or intimidated by Lebanon,” Whalen said. “We know they’re a very good team, but these girls won’t go out and get intimidated.”

Grino and Shirk were there to witness their teammates heartbreak in a one-stroke loss to Lebanon at the SAC meet in 2019, only to watch them come back and win the sectional — and they were both on the course last fall when they lost the county match by two strokes.

It won’t happen again.

Barker, Grino, Shirk, and Snook have improved too much and Meadows is simply too good.

“We want to avenge what they didn’t get to do (2019 team) and also with us last year with losing county and we definitely want to get that meet as well,” Grino said.

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