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In a similar storyline from previous years, the Henry County girls’ golf team had one of its best seasons on record but failed to grab an elusive state tournament qualifying spot at the season-ending regional tourney.
Playing in the Louisville-based Fifth Region at the Midland Trail Golf Club all day Monday, the Ladycats finished fourth in the team standings with the top-two teams automatically advancing to state along with the top-four individuals not on a qualifying team. The Cats finished tied for third last year.
“Of course we were disappointed,” said HCHS coach Kathy Peyton, whose team has been aiming for a state spot since the close call last September. “We just seemed very nervous. It was the most nervous I’ve ever seen any team starting out. They just wanted it so bad and knew they had the potential to do it this year.”
Playing in windy and chilly conditions that left the air heavy and the golf course wet, Sacred Heart Academy easily won the team championship with a four-person combined score of 323. Shelby County was second at 343, Oldham County was third at 349, Henry was fourth at 365 and DuPont Manual was fifth at 370. There were 17 full teams that played. Henry had already beaten Shelby and Oldham in tournaments this year.
Individually up front, Sacred Heart’s Lindsay Gahm shot a 1-under-par 71 over the 18 holes to come away with the win by three strokes. The senior, who won the tournament as a sophomore and finished third last year, had three straight birdies on the back nine to open a lead. She has already signed with Indiana University. Gahm and teammate MacKenzie Moir, who finished tied for second at 74, helped Sacred Heart capture the team title.
The four players who qualified for state individually were Sammi Smith from Assumption (74), Meghan Theiss from Oldham (81), Haley Koesters from Manual (81) and Leah Pehlke from Oldham (83).
As for Henry, seventh-grader MacKenzie Peyton led the way with an 14-over-par 86 in her first time playing in the regional tournament. Also, sophomore Emily Hensley shot a 92, sophomore Ally Vaughn shot a 93, senior Samantha Woods shot a 94 and sophomore Taylor Stanley shot a 105. The Henry players played alongside players from Manual and Mercy Academy with tee times of 8:18 a.m., 8:27, 8:36, 8:45 and 8:54. The day started with a cool morning and windy weather and eventually warmed up. The weather, especially the wind, played havoc for all the golfers.
“There were a lot of places on the course where it was really wet,” Peyton said. “And it was really cool and windy in the morning. That’s not what we’re used to playing. The weather was a factor, especially early in the morning.”
Heading into Saturday’s regional tournament, the Ladycats had their best outing ever with a three-team home match against Atherton and Carroll County at the Henry County Country Club last Wednesday. The team score of 168 broke the school record of 172 set last fall.
Hensley shot a 40, Vaughn a 41, Peyton a 43 and Woods a 44 to combine in the team standings. Other Henry golfers included MacKenzie Clifford at 59, Taylor Stanley at 63, Maddie Hensley at 64, Brianna Hanley at 65 and Bayleigh Boyer at 72. Carroll’s top player shot a 42 and the team finished at 240. Atherton had just one player, who shot a 64.
“We were very happy with that score,” Peyton said. “And we were happy with the younger girls, too. We’ve had some come out to play with us this year and we’re hoping to build a team with them in the coming years.”
With the school record, the Ladycats were primed for the regional tournament just five days later but their season came to an end with the fourth-place outing. Minus the lone senior, Woods, they will regroup for another run next fall.
“These girls are just a great group of girls to be around,” Peyton said. “We had a very good season: set school records, finished towards the top in all of our tournaments and won most of our matches. They have nothing to be embarrassed about.”
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