Wildcats rebound with class in 10th-place finish

Doug McSchooler/Indianapolis Star
Jasper MeKenzie Hilsmeyer teed off in Saturday’s second round of the state finals in Franklin, where the Wildcats finished 10th.

From Herald Staff Reports

The Jasper girls golf team gave coach Steve Milligan plenty of memories Friday and Saturday during the state finals at The Legends of Indiana Golf Club in Franklin.

But a complete stranger also provided a memorable moment. A man who Milligan had never seen before approached the Jasper coach Saturday as the eighth-ranked Wildcats (679) were on their way to finishing in 10th place, and offered the following compliment.

“He said, ‘Let me tell you, You’ve got a great team. Winning or losing is not the most important thing. The girls showed class out there. They are a class-act team and that is the most important thing. You can not teach class. Your girls showed other teams how to win the game without winning or losing and that’s important,’” Milligan said.

The man said he had been to the state finals plenty of times over the years, and Milligan was so touched by the gesture that he cried a little behind his sunglasses.

On the course, meanwhile, Jasper rebounded Saturday.

Sophomore Annika Harmon improved her Friday score by 10 strokes and finished with a 91 Saturday. Annie Getzin (79) and MeKenzie Hilsmeyer (83) improved their scores by one and three strokes, respectively, as Janelle Gore (92) and Emily Horney (85) continued to provide steady play to help the Cats to their second top-10 finish at the state finals in the last three years.

“The girls bounced back from the second day to the first day,” Milligan said. “It wasn’t like they were giving up.”

That assessment was particularly true of Getzin.

The junior hit her tee shot into the water on hole No. 18. After taking a drop, she fired her next shot to within four inches of the hole and nailed the short par putt.
“That just showed the class of her game to get to 79,” Milligan said. “That was a great shot.”

Gore, Hilsmeyer and Horney finished their careers, and although Hilsmeyer said the Wildcats weren’t completely satisfied with their scores, the days leading up to the state finals was a great way for Hilsmeyer to end her career, she said.

“The whole week itself was one of the best weeks I’ve ever had and I knew it was going to be,” Hilsmeyer said.

Between playing the Pete Dye Course at French Lick and excurions to out-of-town restaurants — the girls danced with their waitress  at a Joe’s Crab Shack on Thursday — the Wildcats still racked up plenty of memories.

“We all became best friends this season,” Hilsmeyer  “The energy just bounced off each other and kept each other going.”

The girls also proved Milligan right, as he’s said several times this season this year’s group was enjoyable to coach.

“MeKenzie, her whole career has been really great; she struggled the first day but then she came back the second day,” Milligan said. “Annie was pretty steady. Emily Horney, she brought her game both days. ... She brought her game all the way through and then Janelle, she was pretty steady.”

Individually, Chesterton’s Kelly Grassel defended her state title by firing a 36-hole state finals record score of 137. Top-ranked Yorktown (625) claimed the team state title, as No. 5 Carmel (639), No. 2 Noblesville (651), No. 4 Penn (653), No. 14 Evansville North and No. 9 Valparaiso (662), No. 6 Chesterton (669) and No. 12 Zionsville and No. 10 Lafayette Jefferson (672) followed, finishing ahead of Jasper.

“We wanted to do better but they went up there and competed and played their best,” Milligan said. “I’m so proud of this group.The girls played their hearts out for Jasper and for the community.”

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