By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
With a pair of returning state qualifiers on the roster, expectations were high for the Carthage girls golf team on Monday.
And the Tigers delivered.
Carthage placed two golfers in the top five individually and cruised to a first-place finish at the Webb City Invitational at Carl Junction’s Briarbrook Golf Course.
Carthage’s team score of 372 was 47 strokes better than Carl Junction and Webb City, who tied for second place at 419.
Sara Golden paced the Tigers with an 81, good for third place overall. Hailey Bryant finished fifth at 83 and Rylee Scott shot 96. Bryant finished 86th in last year’s Class 2 state championship, and Scott tied for 73rd.
“I was very proud of the way they all played,” Carthage coach Lowell Catron said. “Sara had a good round of 81. Her and Hailey just played good, consistent golf. They didn’t waste a whole lot of shots and that’s what we talk about all the time. The other girls are going to keep working on that. We all will. Just trying to eliminate the high numbers. Bogeys will never hurt us.”
Golden got off to a rough start on the first two holes but birdied the fourth and was in good shape from there.
“As a team I feel like we did really well,” she said. “We all had our ups and downs. I had some really bad shots on some holes but overall I feel like every hole was good. I really tried to just have fun out there.”
Bryant had a few double bogeys but said she settled down midway through the first nine holes.
“I was like, ‘Okay, I think I’ve got this today,’” she said.
She was surprised to hear the final margin of Carthage’s victory.
“I think we’re all pretty proud of that and I hope we can keep building off it during the season and I hope it gives us confidence as a team,” she said.
Carthage’s fourth scorer was Shaely Garrison, who shot 112.
Samantha Maceli of Pittsburg, Kan. earned individual honors with a 77. McDonald County’s Lily Allman – who tied for 40th at state last year – was second at 79.
Carl Junction was led by returning state qualifier Jenna Teeter, who shot 82 to place fourth individually. She tied for 12th in Class 2 a year ago.
Carl Junction’s Abby Rogers shot 105, Maddie Coats shot 113 and Kris Smith shot 119.
Like the Bulldogs, Webb City also carded 419 as a team to tie for second. The Cardinals were led by Sarah Oathout’s 92 and Sydney French’s 96. Laya McAllister was at 109 and MaKayla Farris shot 122.
“It went okay,” said Webb City coach Jackson Boyer. “Our girls started off a little slow. The later holes they finished stronger. They need to get mentally prepared to start a round early and get going. We’ve got to score better on those first six holes to make the total score go down a little bit. Very pleased with our first tournament of the season.”
The Cardinals have just four players on the team this year and every score will count. Despite not having an individual crack the top five, Boyer said the team’s finish was due to its balance.
“It shows we’re balanced,” he said. “We don’t have a standout low scorer today but I think that’s coming. We’re looking forward to going to Schifferdecker on Wednesday and improving from today for sure.”
In addition to Allman’s 79, McDonald County recevied a 119 from Anna Mead, a 121 from Jolie Stipp and a 122 from Lundyn Trudeau. The Mustangs shot 441 as a team to finish fourth.
In fifth place was Joplin, led by Emily Delman’s 92. Seneca was fifth at 502 with Kaitlyn Soden shooting 113.
Pittsburg, Monett, Clever and Nevada didn’t play full teams. Monett’s Claire Nation shot 124, Clever’s Josette Mclauglin shot 123 and Nevada’s Katie Pennington shot 129.