Winning a state championship at Prairie View less than two weeks from now will require a team to maintain its composure through some inevitable rough times. The course is going to cause challenges for everybody; being able to calmly steer through the storm and avoid disaster.
Monday’s sectional at Hickory Stick offered a taste of what Prairie View might offer — a tougher and longer setup than many of the coaches and players were anticipating — so Center Grove had to feel pretty good about how it handled itself.
The No. 3 Trojans finished with a 19-over-par total of 303, 18 shots clear of runner-up Franklin, to win their ninth consecutive sectional title and advance to Saturday’s regional at The Legends.
“The course was set up harder than what I expected it was going to be,” Center Grove coach Hoover said, “but we managed the course well. We minimized the mistakes and kept them small, and really did a solid job on a difficult day.”
Center Grove got matching rounds of 75 from senior Sage Parsetich and junior Rowen Pfeifle; Parsetich defeated her teammate on the first playoff hole to secure medalist honors for the day.
“I would have been happy if either of us won, because it’s still Center Grove,” Parsetich said. “We won as a team, so I was already super pumped up about us winning sectionals.
Abby Rich contributed a 76 for the Trojans, while Lexi Stuart and Camille Short each shot 77. The only player to break up the Center Grove monopoly atop the leaderboard was Franklin freshman Lexi Ray, who matched Rich’s 76 to tie for third individually.
Hoover was particularly pleased to see Short bounce back after a quadruple-bogey eight on her third hole and play the last 15 at 1 over par. He also had high praise for Pfeifle after her big day out of the No. 5 spot in the lineup.
“That was a great, great round from her,” Hoover said. “She was in a really great frame of mind.”
The seventh-ranked Grizzly Cubs, who easily earned the right to play in Saturday’s regional on their home course, also got a 79 from Addi Bright and an 80 from Reese Phillips. Morgan Sandrock (86) and Addie Livorno (87) rounded out the Franklin lineup.
“We had three pretty good scores,” Grizzly Cubs co-coach Crystal Morse said. “It’s that fourth score we’ve got to work on this week going into regionals, just putting us in a good place where we don’t put a lot of stress on our top three players. … It’s there. We’ve just got to get them in that place for regionals.”
Whiteland finished fifth in the team standings with a 400. The Warriors’ Chloe Cooper carded an 89, good enough to qualify for the regional as an individual. Kylie McGovern added a 96, losing out on the final individual qualifying spot in a playoff.
Greenwood, led by Emma Baker’s 97, tied for sixth with a 428. Roncalli’s Elsie Kerr earned an individual regional spot with her 95; the Royals were eighth at 435. Greenwood Christian was ninth with a 456, paced by Emily Heldman’s 102.
In the Bloomington North Sectional at Cascades earlier in the day, Indian Creek’s Hannah Emenhiser shot an 86 and then defeated Edinburgh’s Izzy Richardson in a playoff to punch her ticket for Saturday at The Legends. The Braves placed fifth as a team with a 405; the Lancers, who also got a 96 from Macie Blandford, were seventh at 409.
For Center Grove, Franklin and the local individuals still playing, the focus now turns to the regional round — and trying to survive and advance one more time to earn that trip to Prairie View.
And winning, if possible.
“The most important thing Saturday is to advance,” Hoover said. “The second most important thing is to try to bring home a trophy.”