Rebounding Cats have no weak linksAugust 31, 2012
Herald Sports Writer
HUNTINGBURG — Annika Harmon smiled, having fired the best round of her career, a match-low, even-par 37.
It’s amazing what change can occur in a day’s time.
Harmon led a Wildcat squad, which registered three sub-40 rounds, past Southridge 160-200 Thursday at Huntingburg Country Club. In Jasper’s first loss of the season on Wednesday, coming against No. 11 Castle, Harmon struggled, posting a 49. Some 24 hours later, she took control.
“My first shots were just going really good and I wasn’t going right like I normally do,” said Harmon, who nearly drove the green on the par-4 eighth hole. “I was getting on the green in regulation and two-putting and one-putting.”
Yet what truly spurred the staggering 12-stroke improvement from the previous match was the sophomore’s unruffled mindset, Jasper coach Steve Milligan said.
“(Wednesday), first hole, she went out there and shot an eight,” Milligan recalled. “I said, ‘What is wrong with you?’ She said, ‘I’m nervous.’ So I asked, ‘What are you nervous about? It’s only a game.’ Next shot, she hit the ball in the water. ‘Annika, it’s only a game. Relax.’ And today, before she went up on the tee, I said, ‘Annika, smile today.’ And she started smiling. And there it was. Thirty-seven.”
Not only did it punctuate the seventh-ranked Wildcats’ rebound performance, but Harmon’s card also re-emphasized one of Milligan’s most welcomed predicament: His team is deep.
Annie Getzin and MeKenzie Hilsmeyer continued to dazzle per usual, each posting 39, and no Wildcat golfer failed to break 50.
“That’s what’s been so tough for me,” Milligan said. “The three, four, five, six and seven (positions) have really been close, and I don’t have a one and a two, I have a one-two punch. And that’s what’s been so exciting. … That’s what has been good, to make them know they’ve got to work at it every day to make sure they keep their spot.”
For the Raiders, the effort could be evaluated as much in perseverance as in numbers.
“(The performance was) not as strong as I’d like it to be, seeing that it’s our home course,” first-year Raider coach Phil Olinger said. “But I was happy to see that even though a few of our girls had some bad holes, they didn’t really give up after that. They kept going. We were still able to finish. I was pretty happy about that.”
Leading the charge for Southridge were Shelby Kippenbrock and Jessica Oser, both securing 48s. Kayley Main tallied a 49 for the Raiders, alongside Hannah Huff (55), Allison Bounds (56) and Kabrea Robling (58).
Rounding out the Wildcats’ scoring were Janelle Gore, who shot a 45, and Emily Horney and Emily Schneider, who both strung together rounds of 48, helping the team improve its score by nine strokes from the previous day.
Having three girls shoot in that range is tremendous for the team as it advances toward postseason play, Milligan said. However, having a fourth golfer shoot well ultimately will dictate how far Jasper can go.
“We had a 37 and two 39s,” he said, “but we’re still hunting for that other person to get that lower score. And we’ve got that girl there. We know she’s there.”
Subtract a nine on her final hole, and Gore could have been that scorer, Milligan said.
“She had a beautiful round going,” he said.
Therein lies another benefit of Jasper’s talent surplus, Harmon said. Forgettable swings and head-spinning holes are quickly forgotten, and the focus returns to the swing to come.
“We’re competitive with each other,” she said. “And the competitiveness keeps us just getting up and moving on to our next shot, even if we have a bad shot, to just keep going.”
The Raiders will be looking to install a similar mindset, focusing primarily on players’ short games and mental makeup in the remaining days before their Pocket Athletic Conference meet and sectional, Olinger said.
As for the Wildcats, it’s about ensuring that their depth takes them deep.
“You’ve got to get three girls in the 70s and two girls in the low 80s to be able to go far in the tournament,” Milligan said. “And that’s where you want to be. And I feel like we do have six to seven girls that can do that.”
Contact Joe Jasinski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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