The pressure that comes with earning a return trip to the Division I state tournament didn’t faze Lakota East High School’s girls golf team.
The Thunderhawks are headed back to state after a third-place showing in Tuesday’s district tournament at Glenview Golf Course, powered by the play of senior Bree Wilson (38-41—79) and junior Grace Honigford (38-41—79).
“Oh, it feels great,” Honigford said. “We’ve been excited for this all year, and now it’s finally happened. I think we all had a positive mind-set and thought we could do it.”
East advanced to Columbus for the first time in program history last fall and finished seventh. Do the Thunderhawks have the collective game to compete for a state title next Friday and Saturday at the Ohio State University Gray Course?
“I think they do,” first-year East coach Ali Green said. “They all five need to be playing on their game, but if they do, I think they have what it takes to give it a run.”
“I think we can do better than that,” Honigford added of last season’s finish. “We played fine last year, but I think we’ve got a good team this year. We could play really well.”
The Thunderhawks put up a 325 total at Glenview on Tuesday and will be joined at state by Centerville (314) and Mason (323).
Centerville senior Marissa Wenzler was the medalist with a 35-33—68. That 4-under-par score was nine shots better than Mason freshman Ally Madden (39-38—77), who had the day’s second-best round.
“We’ve been out here a couple times for practice rounds, so we’re very familiar with the course,” third-year Mason coach Chad Layton said. “It was challenging today. The greens were a lot quicker than they were when we practiced out here, so that took some adjustments. Overall, I’m just happy we made it out.”
It will be the Comets’ eighth state appearance as a team, but first since 2014. Layton noted that Vivienne Su represented Mason at state as in individual in 2016.
“That was a great experience, but the whole time I was up there with her, I couldn’t help but think about how great it would be to be up there as a team,” he said. “If everybody’s on, we can go toe-to-toe with anybody, so we’re looking forward to getting up there to see how it all shakes out.”
It was a good day for the Greater Miami Conference and another close finish in the East-Mason rivalry. Beyond the two teams headed north, Colerain senior Alex Schutte (39-42—81) also earned a state berth by defeating Lebanon senior Maddie Owens (41-40—81) in a one-hole playoff for the final individual spot.
Said Layton, “It’s a great thing for everybody involved in our league.”
Freshmen Samantha Bernardo (40-43—83) and Ellie Yeazell (42-42—84), along with junior Camryn Eddy (42-46—88), also competed for East.
“It was a fight for them,” Green said. “I think they came into it with a lot of pressure on themselves because they made it last year, so they were very nervous. But they fought really hard and did what we needed to do to qualify, and that’s all we really needed.
“I know the girls are super excited and I’m super excited to be able to help them get there. It’s just great to see how the program has transformed within the last five to seven years.”
Fairfield senior Heather Zaglauer (43-46—89) and Lakota West junior Alyssa Trevis (43-52—95) also represented the GMC, but failed to advance to state.
Schutte, Ursuline junior Katie Fuller (40-40—80) and Beavercreek junior Sarah O’Connor (37-43—80) were the individual state qualifiers.