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HSE Royals Seek Repeat at Girls Golf State Finals
September 30, 2011VYPE MAGAZINE - Central Indiana
By Chris Nelsen
For VYPE Magazine
Certain teams are synonymous with their respective high school sports in Central Indiana. When you think football: Warren Central, Carmel, Cathedral and Bishop Chatard are likely to come to mind. Mention boys basketball: North Central probably tops the list. Girls basketball: Ben Davis is likely to dominate that conversation.
With each sport, there is a team or teams that instantly stand out— based on past history and recent accomplishments within the Indiana High School Athletic Association landscape.
In girls golf, Martinsville has clearly paved the way, winning a record 11 IHSAA state titles between 1991 and 2009. North Central and Penn are tied for second with four state titles apiece.
Tied for third on that list is Hamilton Southeastern, the defending team state champions. The Royals also won titles in 2003 and 2008.
“Martinsville, if you’re looking at the history, is head and shoulders above everybody else,” HSE coach Steve Guenin said. “Every year, they’re awfully good. We’re getting there, but it’s too early to put us in their category.”
The Royals can take another step toward entering the conversation with Martinsville at the state finals beginning Friday, Sept. 30, at the Legends Golf Club in Franklin.
The top-nine teams after the opening 18 holes, and any team within 12 strokes of the lead, advance to the second and final round on Saturday, Oct. 1. The top nine individuals, excluding those who advance with a team, and individuals within four strokes of the lead after Friday also move on.
Hamilton Southeastern, which finished second at the Anderson Sectional on Sept. 17, and won the New Castle Regional on Sept. 24, can become the seventh team to win back-to-back girls golf state titles with a victory in Franklin.
“We have built something up,” said Royals senior Anne Leighty, who typically averages as the team’s No. 2 or 3 player. “We weren’t very good a long time ago, but now we’ve been in the state competition on a consistent basis. We’re somebody that other teams want to beat. People think of us that way.”
The Royals, who finished the regular season ranked second behind Penn in the Indiana High School Golf Coaches Association state rankings, could have an advantage over some of the teams at this year’s state finals.
Four of HSE’s players – senior Brooke Beegle, Leighty, sophomore Mary Ellen Romero and senior Kelsey St. John – were part of last year’s championship roster. Sophomore Lauren Kirkwood, one of this year’s top five, was a state alternate in 2010.
“After last year, we know what it feels like to be leading going into the second day,” said Beegle, a Purdue golf recruit. “We’re looking more toward this year like, ‘Ok, this is what we need to work on. This is what we have to do to win.’”
While every team plays tournaments during the regular season, nothing really compares to the atmosphere of the state finals.
“To have been-there-and-done-that, it helps a lot with nerves,” Leighty said. “It’s a huge competition and you want it so bad. It helps to have people who have been there.”
Guenin believes the two-day format at the state finals should benefit his squad. The Royals shot 315 at sectionals and 305 at regionals. Their season-low is 290.
“State is a little bit different – you have to put together two days,” Guenin said. “For us, that’s an advantage. We go out there and play pretty steady. We always try to move on and survive until the next round. This group of girls understands what it takes.”
Whether or not the Royals can repeat as state champions, it’s unlikely they’d eclipse Martinsville as the “gold standard” for Indiana girls golf. But a fourth title in nine years surely wouldn’t hurt their case.
“It would be nice. It would be really cool to win state again,” Beegle said. “All I really want is for us to play well. If our best isn’t good enough, then whoever wins it, good for them.”