Locals reign supreme at Jasper sectionalSeptember 20, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER — Jasper golf coach Jan Tellstrom is a believer in progress, and the Wildcats showed progress on Saturday at Buffalo Trace Golf Course in the form of a sectional championship with a score of 360 points to finish in first place.
“They reminded me today that they were five shots better today than they were last year,” Tellstrom said.
Leading the way for Jasper were All-Southern Indiana Athletic Conference members Elizabeth Ackerman and Halle Knies, both juniors. Both of them finished in the top three individually — with Knies finishing in third place with an 87, and Ackerman just being a shade off the medalist honors by shooting an 85.
Tellstrom felt the championship was a product of the fierce grit and determination the Wildcats showed out there, citing junior Anna Schmitt taking off her shoes and socks to play a ball from the water.
“These girls buckle down when it comes to competition,” he said. “…It doesn’t look like they’re doing better in many cases, but they are. What I mean by that is if you look at their faces, it is often times not a smile there, which means they’re not playing well, but they manage to just kind of buckle down and make it happen.”
One For The Second Thumb
Baileigh Schneider repeated as the individual sectional champion on Saturday. The Southridge senior shot an 82, earning her 10th medal this season and helping her team advance to regionals with a third place score of 403. Schneider shot a 76 last year at the sectional and 81 at the Pocket Athletic Conference meet earlier this month, but a slightly higher score Saturday was no concern to Raiders coach Tom Collins.
“I watch a lot of her shots, I watch her play and she’s hitting some great shots, she’s playing some great golf,” Collins said. “Conditions were pretty darn tough today, a lot of places, the ground was really hard, really dry. Some of your normal shots that you would hit on courses just were totally different today. For the way the course was, I thought she played great.”
Collins felt the team put in a lot of hard work down the stretch and had really been playing well lately. Both Collins and his golfers set their sights on a sectional championship, but the coach the Herald that they’re thrilled to death to return to regionals as a team.
“That means a lot to them,” he said. “It’s a memory they’re going to have forever, and we’re going to try our darndest this year to get Baileigh onto state. I’ve been wanting to go there myself, see how it all works, and I know Baileigh — she’s just itching to get there. Country Oaks is one of those courses that she’s played a lot. She’s had three chances at it, and I think she’s really hungry for that state (appearance).”
Heritage Hills junior Grace Mangan shot a 93, advancing to regionals as an individual for the second year in a row, but one question still needed to be answered by the time all the scores were finished — Would another Patriot join her there?
Sophomore teammate Kylie Fahnestock shot a 99, tying herself with Crawford County’s Amanda Coomer for the third and final spot. The two golfers went at it in a playoff, and in the end, Fahnestock's teammates mobbed and hugged her, as she won the playoff and cemented a Sept. 26 trip to the Country Oaks regional.
Only the Mangan and her senior sister Sarah were on the Pats to start the golf season, but Fahnestock came to Heritage Hills from Canton, Ill. She couldn’t have envisioned that she would’ve been regional-bound when she first joined the team, but Pats coach Dave Jochim noticed the progress she made during the season.
“Once she got settled into the groove and felt comfortable, her swing started getting better,” Jochim said. “Like she said, she needs to work on her chipping. Her putting’s always been decent, sometimes it’s been really good. Regarding when she’s off the driver, she plays really well.”
Grace is excited to be going to regionals again for the second year in a row. Heritage Hills finished in fourth place with a team score of 426.
“For starting out with two girls, Sarah and I are super-blessed to have these girls join us, and we’re just so excited to have a great season with them.”
Forest Park didn’t have enough golfers to field a team score, but junior Grace Wendholt was just a shade off of qualifying for regionals.
Wendholt shot a 101, just slightly higher than the 99 Fahnestock and Coomer shot, but her 101 was better than the best golfer from a few schools that scored as a team.
“She won’t admit it, but I thought she had a great,” Rangers coach Nick Grothouse said. “A few hiccups here and there, but I was very proud. I think she put up six strokes better than last year. That’s great to shave six strokes from one year to the next.”
Grothouse ended his first season coaching Forest Park on Saturday, and he sees a lot of positives going into 2021. Wendholt will be back next year as a senior. Sophomores Grace Haas and Kaitlyn Seffernick, who shot a 116 and 120, respectively on Saturday, will return as juniors.
Grothouse spoke to some golfers who will be freshmen next year, and he said the Rangers could have as many as three more golfers joining the trio in 2021.
“They’re a great group of girls,” he said. “We have had a lot of fun this year and showed a lot of improvement. So, I’m fully encouraged for next year.”
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