Top seeds cruise to sectional titles
As expected, the top three seeds easily captured titles in their respective Division I sectional high school girls golf tournaments Oct. 2, but they weren't the only teams with reason to celebrate.
Among those who will be joining sectional champions Dublin Jerome, Dublin Coffman and Pickerington North in the district tournament Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek were Hilliard Bradley and Thomas Worthington.
Seeded seventh, Bradley was the third-highest seed in the Oakhaven sectional and advanced to district for the first time in its fourth season as a program.
Thomas, which has had a program since 1996, will be making only its second district appearance. Seeded 14th, the Cardinals were the fourth-highest seed in The Links at Groveport sectional but carded a 392 to edge 16th-seeded Canal Winchester (393) and 15th-seeded Hilliard Davidson (398) for the final qualifying spot. The Cardinals also qualified for district in 2006.
The top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team at each sectional advanced to district, where the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams will advance to state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Gray Course.
“We just went over .500 for the season and we were over .500 in the OCC for the first time since I’ve been the coach,” Thomas coach Sean Kaiser said. “The big reason we made it out was because of Sydney Kelly (who shot an 87) and Ally Lucas (who shot an 86).”
At Oakhaven, top-seeded Jerome shot a 323 to take first, followed by fourth-seeded Watterson (348) and Bradley (367). Olentangy’s Taylor Dencer (86) and Olentangy Orange’s Brittany Stevens (89) were among the individual district qualifiers from the site.
“We shot 367, which is off our average, but (Oakhaven) played a little longer, a little softer than in the past,” Bradley coach Doug Grieble said. “Jillian (Bell) has made it to district each of the last three years and our goal was to join her as a team at district this year.”
Jerome, which is the defending state champion and shot a program-record 285 at Oakhaven on Aug. 30, was led by medalist Lexie Toth (77) as it won its fourth consecutive sectional title.
“We shot a 323, which is pretty high, but Oakhaven probably played a little under 600 yards longer than it had been,” Celtics coach C.D. Butcher said. “Right now, we’re just worrying about ourselves and staying focused.”
Jerome and second-seeded Coffman are considered by many to be overwhelming favorites to advance to state.
Watterson has a pair of individuals in Natalie Meyers and Erin Harper who should contend for individual state berths if the Eagles don’t make it as a team. At Oakhaven, Meyers shot a 79 and Harper carded an 81.
“I think they are very deserving to come out,” Watterson coach Rick McQuade said. “They’re probably two of the top players in the area. Natalie has hit the ball pretty well the last couple weeks and Erin is steady as she goes.”
At Mentel Memorial, Coffman recorded a 309 to capture its third consecutive sectional title. Lexie Long was medalist with a 73 and Kylie Raines and Kamerine Taylor each shot 78 to tie for second.
Sixth-seeded Upper Arlington was second (351) and eighth-seeded Marysville placed third (365).
Advancing individually were Gahanna’s Emily Hughes (79), Westerville South’s Felicia Davenport (85) and Westerville Central’s Ana Borish (89).
“Our goal was to get out of here, and we’re playing very solid,” Coffman coach Randy Patton said. “All five of our girls are playing well and that’s the strength of our team.”
UA was led by Hannah Harper (82) and Leah Mills (84) and was a sectional runner-up for the third time in four seasons.
“We were hoping to go below 350,” UA coach Kristi Ghidotti said. “We were right in the middle of the road this season and it was kind of a roller coaster on some days.”
Mackenzie Edgar shot an 85 to lead Marysville, which has made it to district in each of its six seasons as a program.
“It means a lot to get that far, especially with us having such a young team,” Monarchs coach Sue Wyman said.
Gabby Milam shot an 80 to earn medalist honors while leading third-seeded Pickerington North (341) to its second consecutive sectional title at Groveport. North’s Allissa Davis and Kristin Oliphant each shot 84 to take the next two spots overall.
Fifth-seeded Olentangy Liberty was second (368).
Davidson’s Katie Lease (88) and Canal Winchester’s Marci Browning (91) were among the individual district qualifiers from the site.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to play at district,” North coach Kitty McGrievy said. “I think everyone knows that Coffman and Jerome have been heads and shoulders above the rest of us, but you never know what can happen on any given day.”
Liberty was led by Hannah Flees with an 89 and Sophie Baun with a 90. The Patriots advanced to district as a team for the fourth time in their six seasons.
“The girls struggled at Groveport, but it’s a tough course,” Liberty coach Chelsea Ross said. “We knew if we kept our composure we could advance. We hope to place fourth or fifth at district.”