Wildcats, Raiders move on, Mangan advances

Photos by Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Jasper's Ainsley Pierce hits the ball during Saturday's girls golf sectional at Buffalo Trace Golf Course in Jasper. For more photos from the sectional, click here.

BY JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

JASPER — Sectional competition represents a lot of things for its participants. First and foremost, it’s the start of a championship march which propels the best athletes toward individual and team honors that stay with them for a lifetime. But sectional is also the culmination of a season’s worth of work sharpening skills and instincts before jumping into the ultimate testing ground to see what you’re made of.

To that end, a swarm of golf teams gathered at Buffalo Trace Golf Course on Saturday to determine which teams and individuals would earn the right to move further down the path. After 18 holes of play Gibson Southern emerged as the top overall team with a 331. Jasper finished second with 365, and Southridge took third place at 396. Heritage Hills finished with a 437, and sophomore Grace Mangan advanced to regional as an individual with a 106. Forest Park shot 464.

Wildcats coach Jan Tellstorm described the girls as “up and down” all day in both their play and the range of emotions they experienced on the course. But he worked with them all season on playing the ball down, and believed the young team could finish in the range of a 360 score. Tellstorm was beside himself after learning of their final score.

“That’s outstanding. These are young players, and this competition meant a lot to them,” he said. “That was more than exciting. I would have been happy with a 380, I’m ecstatic with a 365.”

Southridge coach Tom Collins thought he had a team full of players that could move out of the sectional round as a group, but he admitted things looked a little shaky when the Raiders played in the Pocket Athletic Conference match. But he credited them with pulling it together when it mattered most.

“We shot our best 18-hole score of the year,” Collins said. “We had a couple that were a little up and down in the beginning, but then they turned it around real quick. We had a change of lineup, and my No. 5 (Sydney Layton) stepped in right before sectional with very little varsity experience, came in and shot a great score. Just a good team effort.”

Heritage Hill's Grace Mangan watches her ball after she tees off during Saturday's girls golf sectional at Buffalo Trace Golf Course in Jasper. For more photos from the sectional, click here.

Southridge not only moved on to regional as a team, but also boasted the top overall match player in junior Baileigh Schneider shot a 76 for medalist honors. Schneider set her mind to finish as the individual sectional champion coming into the season, and crushed round after round during the fall to get ready for the moment. She also fought through late-season back issues that took her off the links for a spell, and Schneider believes the Raiders’ support gave her the final push necessary to compete at her highest level.

“It feels awesome just having my team and coach be supportive,” she said. “After my back injury and it being my second week back, it feels good to shoot that kind of score.”

“Baileigh Schneider was calm, cool and collected, and just went about her business like a pro” Collins added. “She knew what she had to do and got the job done today.”

While Heritage Hills won’t be moving on as a team, Mangan is excited to represent the Patriots at the next level. This was Mangan’s first season picking up a golf bag to play at a high school level, and knowing where she started gives her an added appreciation for making it to regionals.

“I was really surprised and happy,” she said. “In the beginning, I was not very good. I struggled a little bit. But throughout the year, my teammates and coach helped me a lot. It really helped me get where I am today.”

Now it’s on to the next stage for the Dubois County golfers, and the road doesn’t get any easier. The field is packed, but they’ll keep on moving forward while working their short game before hitting Country Oaks Golf Club in Washington on Saturday.




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