Why not us?
That’s been the motto for Southmont’s girls golf team this week in practice as they prepare for the IHSAA Regional at Smock Golf Course in Indianapolis.
The Mounties advanced to the regional after claiming the school’s first sectional title with a score of 357 — 17 strokes better than Lebanon, who beat Southmont by one stroke just one week earlier at the Sagamore Conference meet.
“I’m not going to lie to you, conference still bothers me,” Southmont coach Bill Whalen said. “One stroke on your home course, and not so much that we lost, but all the mistakes I saw us make that day. So to come back and win by 17 strokes over a good Lebanon team that meant the world to us. First of all, it was the first one in school history, and this is a goal that these girls set since their freshman year. I’m so proud and so happy for them.”
“It was our last time playing in the sectional, and we finally did what we’ve been striving to do for four years,” Lexi Rusk added.
On Saturday the Mounties are paired with No. 3 Zionsville and No. 5 Westfield, where No. 1 Bailey Thompson will play with two of the state’s best in Annabelle Pancake and Jocelyn May.
The five seniors that makeup Southmont’s lineup can recall how far they’ve come since they first qualified for the regional as sophomores, and even the improvements they made since they picked up the game as freshmen.
“I think that it’s really funny that now we hit the ball like three feet off the green and we think it is a bad shot,” Thompson said. “And freshmen year we would think the same shot was the best shot of our lives.”
Logan Berrisford, who owns the school record with the best 9-hole score with an even par (36) earlier this season, recalls her first time picking up golf clubs as a sophomore.
“When I first started I didn’t even know how to hold the club properly,” she said. “I just put my hands around it and tried to swing.”
Depth has carried the Mounties through the last four years, and two-time reigning Journal Review Golfer of the Year Erin Williams says the team dynamic is what makes it all so special.
“The team dynamic,” she said. “We never really hung out before golf happened, and I think we’ve gotten a lot closer over the four years and I think that’s made as even better as well.”
Early on not too many people believed the Mounties had what it took be one of the state’s best.
“I don’t think anyone believed in us, except ourselves,” Carson White said.
They’ve proved all their doubters wrong this far though, and after receiving votes in the final poll of the season, Whalen continues to say why not us?
“We’ve been saying all week, why not us?” he said. “The pressure is off of us. We have no pressure on us, because we aren’t expected to get out. And those are the most dangerous teams are the ones that you overlook.” “We aren’t going over to just show up. We are going over to play, to compete, and to represent Southmont and Montgomery County and play our best and see what happens.”
Crawfordsville’s Bailey Mittal will also compete on Saturday after advancing out of the sectional as an individual with a 91. Now a junior, Mittal advanced as a freshman and has battled through a wrist injury to get back into form.
“I’ve been put a lot more work into it over the summer,” she said. “When it does hurt, you just have to block out the pain and focus on the next shot.”
Athenians coach Tony Thomas believes Mittal’s best golf is still in front of her.
“She shot a 91 yesterday, and I really feel she’s got a 42 in her, and a sub-90,” he said. “Her ball striking yesterday was really good. I think that she’s got it in her to have her best round.”
Mittal tees of at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, while Southmont will start teeing off at 8:50 a.m.