Girls Golf: Greyhounds continue ascent to elite status

FRANK DIRENNA
fdirenna@thisweeknews.com
Grove City's Lizzie Saur surveys a putt for birdie during the first round of the OCC-Ohio tournament Aug. 12 at Blacklick. Saur, a senior, averaged 73.7 and was named league Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

When Megan Blaney helped form the Grove City girls golf team in 2013, she hoped to eventually build it into one of the elite programs in central Ohio.

In golf terms, she appears to have hit her drive a short putt from the pin now that the Greyhounds have won their second consecutive OCC-Ohio Division title. They went 20-0 in league play, finishing ahead of Gahanna (13-7), Pickerington North (12-7-1), Pickerington Central (9-11), Big Walnut (5-15) and Lancaster (0-19-1).

"When I started at Grove City (in the 2012-13 school year), we didn't have a girls golf program," said Blaney, who is a science teacher. "I started it as a club sport and then it became a varsity sport. I had no idea that we would eventually get to the level we're at now. Obviously, you always hope for that, but this quickly is even better."

The program began as a club team in 2013 and became a varsity sport in 2016. The Greyhounds previously had individuals compete as part of the boys team.

Grove City won the program's first league title last season, going 18-2 to edge second-place North (16-4).

"Last year was more of a shock because it was our first title ever," senior Lizzie Saur said. "This year it was more defending that title. We were super excited to be able to defend the title because going back-to-back isn't always easy and this year we had to put up really good scores. It means just as much if not more."

Saur, a 2019 state qualifier, repeated as league Player of the Year with a 73.7 average. She earned the honor last season with a 73.8 average and also was first-team all-league as a sophomore and freshman.

Individual league awards this season were based on the golfers' averages from their top three rounds in the four-round tournament.

"I was really pleased with my performance both last year and this year," Saur said. "(Repeating as league Player of the Year) was one of my big goals coming into the season, so I was happy I was able to achieve it."

Saur was joined on the first team by her sister, freshman Bella Saur, who had an 80.3 average.

Sophomore Rachael Jones (88.7) was second-team all-league, and sophomore Chloe Seeley (93.7) and freshman Kaylyn Henson (93.7) were honorable mention all-league.

"We're very fortunate with how the girls have played this year," Blaney said. "Some of them have definitely surprised me with the improvements that they've made. Lizzie is incredibly special and I hope to see her at state again, but we have a special team and we have a special program. I'm hopeful that this year and the next couple of years we'll continue to play at the level we've been at."

The Greyhounds will now prepare for the postseason.

Last season, Lizzie Saur earned the program's first Division I state berth and tied Liberty Township Lakota East's Grace Honingford for seventh (145) of 92 golfers behind champion Anna Ritter (138) of New Albany.

"Megan is a big part of this," Lizzie Saur said. "She's always encouraging us, telling us ways we can practice and get better and just keeps everyone positive, which is key to playing well. She's definitely played a big role in us achieving the league title again."

Grove City will compete in a sectional Oct. 6 at Mentel Memorial, Royal American or Blacklick Woods. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 13 at New Albany Links.

The state tournament will be Oct. 23 and 24 at Ohio State's Gray Course.

"We definitely have our eyes on sectional, district and then I'm hoping to be able to go to state again because that's one of the highlights of my golf career," Lizzie Saur said. "I hope to have that opportunity again."

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