With just a week left in the girls’ golf season, Saturday was a key measuring stick for next weeks’ sectional for the every team at the Sagamore Conference meet at the Crawfordsville Country Club. Heading into the meet both Lebanon and Western Boone had separated themselves as the two team to beat and that held true as the Tigers took home the conference title for the seventh time in the last eight years with a 346. The Stars were second with a 376. Southmont led the local teams by placing third with a 418, Crawfordsville was fifth at 421, just a stroke behind fourth-place Tri-West, and North Montgomery placed seventh with a score of 449. Crawfordsville senior Bailey Mittal claimed first-team all-conference honors with an 89.
Macie Shirk led the Mounties by shooting a 95 while Taylor Grino and Bailey Barker both fired a 105. Stella Snook recorded a 113 and Hanna Long carded a 119. Shirk. Grino and Barker each made second-team all-conference.
Despite the third-place finish, coach Bill Whalen knows there is room for improvement.
“Our goal coming into the meet was 410,” Whalen said. “Knowing that we shot a 418 with Macie having six penalty strokes and Bailey had 43-44 putts, I feel like we left a lot on the table today and I know we can do better.”
Even though the Mounties graduated five seniors from the sectional championship team from last season, the team has come a long way according to Whalen and has put themselves in the mix to qualify for the regional at next weeks’ sectional at Harrison Hills in Attica.
“We’ve improved a ton this year,” he said. “There’s still a long way to go if we want to compete with Western Boone and Lebanon. That third spot is going to be wide open at the sectional next week and we have to improve on our putting and chipping if we want to get out.”
Evie Redding added a 99 for the Athenians, while Gwyn Redding carded a 112. Sadie Walker shor a 121 and Carli Payne a 132.
Just seven strokes separated third place from sixth place and coach Tony Thomas knew coming in that it was going to be close and that his team would have to fight for every stroke.
“Everyone one of our girls improved on the back nine, except for Bailey, but she shot under 90 so that was good to see,” Thomas said. “Danville, Tri-West, South, and us are all right there together and on any given day it can be a different team up there. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good day.”
Heading down the stretch Thomas just wants his team to fine tune the details as they prepare for a county matchup on Wednesday with both North Montgomery and Southmont, and then the sectional on Saturday.
Even thought Mittal shot an 89, Thomas knows her best golf is yet to come.
“She shot an 83 at the Southmont Invite the last time we were here,” he said. “She’s had some low scores as of late, but it all comes down to putting it all together on the same day. She definitely has it in her to play much better and she knows that. She’s a trooper though and I know she’ll come through.”
Grace Littell shot a 108 to lead the way for North Montgomery. Maggie Yeager fired a 112 while Grace Shrader carded a 113. Morgan Swick (116) and Ella Stultz (117) rounded out the scoring for the Chargers.
“I was hoping to take off 10-20 strokes off what we shot at the Southmont Invite,” coach Nick Johnson said. “Our Achilles heel all season has been chipping and putting and they need to learn how to fix and adjust things mid-round.”
The Chargers will have a busy week with three matches before Saturdays’ sectional and Johnson knows that they will have to work on a few things if the team hopes to be in the top three next Saturday.
“We also need to get off the tee a little better to go along with our chipping and putting,” he said. “I genuinely believe we can win county on Wednesday. It comes down to them believing in themselves and not getting down after a stroke or two doesn’t go their way.”
The Chargers will host Tri-West on Monday before all three county teams meet up at the Crawfordsville Municipal Golf Course on Wednesday with the county title on the line.