Chalk wars, dinosaur walks typify quirky Cat spirit

 

Olivia Corya/The Herald
Emily Horney maintains a game face on the golf course. Off the fairways, though, she’s as lighthearted and goofy as the rest of her Wildcat teammates who are bound for Saturday’s regional at Eagle Valley Golf Course in Evansville. The Cats will tee off starting at 11 a.m. EDT.

 

By JOE JASINSKI
Herald Sports Writer

JASPER — A chalk war had been declared, and no golfer’s car was safe. It began with an innocent smiley face drawn by Annika Harmon on Janelle Gore’s windshield, and spiraled from there.

Eventually, the chalk was replaced by heavier artillery.

With faint hopes of a cease-fire, MeKenzie Hilsmeyer and Harmon each bought a goldfish to elevate fighting to the next level. Both fish died within two days.

“What they were going to do with the fish was put them on my car,” Gore explained.

“We had a funeral,” Harmon assured.

Welcome to the world of Jasper girls golf.

After winning their fifth sectional in six years, the eighth-ranked Wildcats will travel to Eagle Valley Golf Course in Evansville on Saturday for regional against a field with five other ranked teams. As the stakes — and stress — continue to heighten, the girls’ attitudes continue to provide sanity.

Wildcat coach Steve Milligan called them the most relaxed group he’s ever coached. They thrive off randomness, constant jokes and laughs and the occasional stupidity. Jasper is comfortable, to say the least.

The personalities vary, but combined, they amount to a contagion of guffawing and goofiness that’s scarily authentic.

There’s Gore, who’s “abusive, verbally and mentally” by Emily Horney’s jabbing assessment. Fear enters the mind when she shows her “game face,” a patented facial manner of anger and intimidation.

She’s also not the best cart driver, as teammates claim she’s even hit a few people on the course. (“It was on accident,” Gore professed.)

Rachel Knies and Emily Schneider, who both wore pink tops to Monday’s practice, are the inseparable twins in their teammates’ eyes.

“They’re not twins but they’re married,” Annie Getzin explained.

Getzin’s main goal on the course has nothing to do with her scores, she said.

“I definitely make it weird so that they laugh,” Getzin said. “That’s my main goal, to make that person laugh.”

She uses a new yellow tee on each hole during competitions and has worn the same silly bands on her wrists for the last three years. A tad superstitious, she is.

As for Horney? That’s “Mahna Mahna,” as her teammates call her, after the Muppets skit. She has no filter, and will speak in a variety of accents — British and French being her specialties.

Restrictions have halfheartedly been made on how much Horney can talk and laugh at practice.

And who came up with the limitations?

“Him,” Horney said with a finger pointed at Milligan, the culprit.

The self-proclaimed “stupid little baby,” Harmon provides comic relief on a second-by-second basis. During a practice last week, the sophomore debuted an impromptu dinosaur walk — elbows tucked inward, hands raised upward as she lets out a high-pitched shriek — that she now demonstrates by request in the clubhouse.

“I’m on hole No. 14 and I look over and I see her going down the fairway like a dinosaur,” Horney recalled. “It’s even funnier with a golf bag on.”

Following Monday’s practice round — during which she sang tunes from “Mary Poppins” with Gore’s umbrella — Harmon experimented with her next animal act with hands by her face.

“I’m a hippo,” she explained. “Hippos are poisonous.”

A teammate promptly corrected her, but Harmon held steadfast.

“It’s an established fact,” she retorted.

Finally, there’s Hilsmeyer, the even-keeled trendsetter.

“She’s pretty mellow,” Getzin said. “She’s like our mellow melon. Wait, mellow melon?”

But be wary, her nonchalant attitude isn’t always what’s beneath the surface, Harmon warned.

“MeKenzie’s like the instigator of the team,” she said. “She’s like the mad evil mind behind this.”

The avid “Saturday Night Live” fan delivers the latest skits’ catchphrases to teammates, who rattle them off incessantly.

“I make sure to fill them in,” said Hilsmeyer, who last suggested Will Ferrell’s “Broadway Sizzle.”

Ask the group about their personalities and the peculiarity deepens. Just be prepared for 30-second bridges of laughter interspersed through the conversation.

Yet behind the goofiness, the quirkiness and the occasional insanity, the Wildcats are undeniably driven. How else do you rationalize them practicing in Monday’s downpour? Or their post-practice range sessions at Sultan’s Run? Or the four additional hours Getzin spent one evening last week chipping and putting at Municipal? Or Hilsmeyer and Getzin’s cooldown round after Saturday’s sectional?

Within an hour span, the group’s conversation ventures from Gore and Harmon’s Twitter relationship to what not to wear when playing in the rain (white pants). From Constitution Day to Hilsmeyer’s fat cat.

“When it walks, it waddles,” Gore said while showing a photo of the feline. “It’s much bigger in person. This photo doesn’t do it justice.”

In an effort to salvage any remaining credibility, Hilsmeyer reminded her teammates, “Guys, we have lives.”

“I do not have a life,” Gore said.

“I did have a life until this year,” Getzin said.

“I never had a life,” Harmon added.

“Me neither,” Horney agreed.

“Guys, that was sarcasm,” Hilsmeyer said. “I know we don’t have lives.”

What they do have is a chance to advance to state for the third time in as many years.

The question now is how the team will handle the pressure. That won’t be known until Saturday. But if hippos can be poisonous, anything is possible.

Contact Joe Jasinski at jjasinski@dcherald.com.




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