Jasper wins girls golf sectional

Photos by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Jasper shot a 340 to come away with its second straight girls golf sectional championship on Saturday. 


JASPER - Karma.

One of the definitions Dictionary.com lists for karma is "the good or bad emanations felt to be generated to someone or something."

It's also something Jasper girls golf coach Josh Dahmer has talked about to his golfers all year, and something he spoke about after the Wildcats won their second straight sectional championship by shooting a team score of 340 on Saturday.

"Karma has a way to bite you and hurt your scores, and it has a way to help you out as well," Dahmer said. "If you do the things right, make the right decisions - at least the best you can - if you take your time and not try to force anything, karma always comes back and helps you out.

"And I won't say that I believed it was going to happen, but I knew the girls were capable of doing something like this," he continued. "And then coming out with our lowest team score of the year, I knew they were capable of it, it was just a matter of putting all things together."

Depth has been a focal point of the 2021 Wildcats, and that was on full display at Buffalo Trace Golf Course. Taking second place was Gibson Southern, who shot a team score of 359. The Titans nearly edged out the Wildcats on Monday in a triangular with Heritage Hills, though Jasper staved off Gibson Southern, 166-168.

This time, Jasper's four top golfers shot lower than a 90 and each had lower scores than Gibson Southern junior Vanessa Schmitt at 93, which was the second-lowest score the Titans posted. The depth Jasper allowed for more separation this time.

"We had the fortunate, innate ability to be able to practice here with our home course," Dahmer said. "So, that was obviously a little bit of an advantage. So, I would say our girls having the experience on the back nine definitely was a bonus today."

Jasper seniors Elizabeth Ackerman (left) and Halle Knies (right) each shot an 83 to tie individually at second place.

Senior All-Southern Indiana Athletic Conference golfers Elizabeth Ackerman, Halle Knies and Avery Bartley led the way for another Jasper championship. Ackerman and Knies each shot an 83 - putting them in a tie for second place. But Bartley has emerged in a major way this year, joining Ackerman and Knies as an all-conference selection - and her 85 gave her third place on the day.

"I was thinking last year, I had all my strokes - they were all there," Bartley said. "But this year, they just really all just got put together."

"I'll mention that word karma again," Dahmer said. "I think Avery took her medicine the last couple of years. She would take her penalty strokes when needed and take her bad breaks from good shots. And this year, she kind of got the ball bouncing in her favor, and her work ethic has been most of it. So, it's just a matter of her working hard, sticking with it and the game of golf will always pay you back when you do things the right way."

Bartley, Ackerman and Knies were just three of the seniors who made an impact Saturday and throughout the season. The Wildcats rode their seniors to a big year, which also included Anna Schmitt's 89 and Ainsley Pierce's 95 on Saturday.

"Being able to have them kind of tweak things with the stance of their grip or swing path or something like

that is nice, and that's, I think, an added bonus to getting an experienced group like that," he said.

Finding their way

Southridge graduated some quality last year in Baileigh Schneider, Meredith Heim and Isabel Morrison, but Raiders coach Tom Collins believed this year's team was going to step up - that they were going to do okay.

He was right.

The Raiders shot 407 as a team on Saturday to come in second place and make it back to the regional round in spite of all they lost from a year ago.

"We had a really good season with this group - they were very consistent the whole season," Collins said. "They came out here and did better than consistent today, and we get to move on."

Collins last spoke to The Herald on Sept. 2, when Southridge fell to Jasper, 173-211 in a dual. He knew back then that his golfers needed to work on putting, and he thought the Raiders chipped well on Saturday that allowed for better putts in the sectional.

Senior Emma Marley paced the Raiders with a score of 93.

Junior Sidney Layton helped Southridge advance to the regional once again this year. Layton shot a 102 on the day. 

"She's really come on the last couple weeks," Collins said. "Her game's just gotten better and better. She's playing with a lot of confidence. She went out here today, and for her, she just tore it up, had a great day - played excellent on the front and even better on the back."

Collins said the Raiders made their goal of wanting to make it to regional, and for now, they will enjoy this.

"This has really been a lot of fun for me this year," he said. "The girls get along great, no drama, no nothing like that. So, it's just a great group and they showed it today."

Been there before

Heritage Hills 442 as a team, which was insufficient for one of the top three spots, but the Patriots aren't done yet

Senior Grace Mangan and junior Kylie Fahnestock are once again regional-bound. Mangan shot a 91 to advance to regionals as an individual for the third year in a row. Meanwhile, Fahnestock avoided any playoff drama this year by shooting a 94 on Saturday to make it to the regional for the second year in a row.

"It feels great to be going back," Fahnestock said. "There's a lot of things we got to work on before we go, but I'm excited to go back and see how good we can do."

This will be Mangan's last regional, and she wants to make this year her best one. Mangan ran into some trouble in some of the holes on the front nine, but she bounced back to once again make it out of the sectional.

Senior Grace Mangan evaluates a hole while on the putting green Saturday. Mangan will represent Heritage Hills at regionals for the third year in a row after she shot a 91 on Saturday. Joining her will be junior teammate Kylie Fahnestock, who shot a 94. 

"I definitely have the mindset of, 'Next hole, shake it off,' and I think that really helps my mental toughness," Mangan said. "And I try to finish as strong as I possibly can."

Pats coach Dave Jochim figured Jasper, Southridge and Gibson Southern would move on as teams, but he knew that if Mangan and Fahnestock played well, they would advance.

"I thought they'd score a little better on the back, but they didn't," Jochim said. "I really thought they'd be in the eighties. It didn't happen, but they advanced for another day."

Odds and ends

Gibson Southern senior Hillary Humbaugh finished as the medalist with a score of 77. Forest Park came in seventh place with a team score of 452 and did not send anybody to regionals. Rangers senior Grace Wendholt shot a team-low of 108.

The regional is set for Sept. 25 at Country Oaks Golf Club.

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