GG: Preview for the 2012 season
July 26, 2012By E. Shawn Aylsworth of Hoosier Authority
By E. Shawn Aylsworth
Coming to a dried-up, heat-stroked golf course near you: the 2012 contingent of Indiana high school girls golfers!
Opening Day for the 2012-13 IHSAA sports year is July 30, when girls golf teams hit the links for a two-week head start on the fall season’s other seven sports. And if the recent past is any indication, you might wanna focus your drought-laden attention on the dynasty-in-the-making that is Hamilton Southeastern.
The Royals of coach Steve Guenin have won the last two state titles, including a thrilling two-stroke victory last year over Penn in which HSE clinched it over the final three holes. Throw in the 2008 championship and another crown in 2003 under former coach Nancy Nuce, and that makes four state championships in the last nine seasons.
In other words, Martinsville-type numbers.
The Artesians captured the last two state titles that were not brought home by HSE, winning in 2007 and again in ’09. Those two championships lifted Martinsville to a state-record 11 crowns overall – Hamilton Southeastern, North Central (Indianapolis), and Penn are tied for second all-time with four apiece – and the Artesians’ 23 state finals appearances are tied with Noblesville for second all-time behind only Lafayette Jefferson (28).
Will Hamilton Southeastern be able to draw even closer to the legendary Martinsville program in 2012? That will be a pretty tall order, considering the Royals return only two of the five players who competed at state and lost to graduation both Brooke Beegle (second to Chesterton then-junior Kelly Grassel last year) and Anne Leighty (tied for 12th).
Leading the charge for HSE this time around will be juniors Mary Ellen Romero (tied for 15th at state) and Lauren Kirkwood (tied for 33rd).
Penn finished the regular season ranked No. 1 last year, and there’s every reason to believe the Kingsmen will start this season off at the top again with four of their six state finalists – all juniors this fall – coming back.
Gone are Anastasia Carter (14th at state) and Mental Attitude Award winner Deanna Song (tied for 18th). But Kari Bellville (tied for sixth), Katie Willenbrink (tied for 36th) and Emily Song and Madison Chestnutt (combined for 24th) all return for four-time state champion Penn, which is tied for second all-time with HSE and North Central (Indianapolis) and holds state tournament records at The Legends for both 18 holes (301) and 36 holes (614) in 2005.
Roncalli placed third at the state finals last year, and the Rebels return only one of its five finalists in junior Abbey Gleixner (tied for sixth). The Indianapolis southside Catholic school that has made it to state the last six years will have its hands full in 2012 after saying good-bye to Anna Gleixner (tied for fourth), Julie Traina (tied for 25th), Catherine Gaughan (tied for 42nd), and Coleen Gaughan (51st).
Tradition-rich Noblesville (fourth in 2011) figures heavily in the favorites conversation with four of its six finalists back. The Millers have qualified for a state-high eight straight state finals and won back-to-back titles in 1986 and ’87 (they’re also tied with Martinsville for second all-time at 23 state finals appearances).
Senior Heather Hayes (tied for ninth) leads an experienced returning foursome rounded out by junior Haley Kluth (35th) and seniors Molly Horsfield and Erika Vonitter (combined to tie for 47th) with Brenna Obergfell (tied for 25th) and Shannon Collyer (tied for 42nd) now gone.
Lookin’ for a dark horse? BAM! That would be Yorktown, the state champ way back in 1976 that came home fifth last year and brings back all five of the golfers who created that Top 5 finish: sophomore Rachel Johnson and senior Kennedy Windlan (tied for 15th), sophomore Morgan Clark (tied for 25th), senior (tied for 45th), and senior Ashley Sexton (tied for 52nd).
MORE TO COME!!