Windy conditions and stiffened requirements didn’t stop Logan-Rogersville from qualifying for another state golf tournament.
Led by senior Brooke Wagner, who led the field by shooting a two-over-par 73, the Lady Wildcats scored a 351 team total at Bill and Payne Stewart Golf Course in Springfield Monday at the Class 2 District 3 Tournament.
A change was made to qualifying prior to this season, requiring a team’s quartet to all be individually qualified in order for programs to compete for a state championship in an effort to strengthen the level of competition. That didn’t deter Rogersville, who posted back-to-back fourth-place finishes in Class 1 before the class expansion this year.
The 1-2 finish of Springfield Catholic and L-R was identical to the Big 8 Tournament on Sept. 29, held at the same course. The Lady Irish, who took first in both events, hit a 339 at the conference tourney, then 311 Monday. Rogersville hit 382 as a whole several weeks ago, but the team improved by over 30 strokes on a day where conditions were gusty at times.
“This is one of our best ones [this season],” L-R head coach John Schaefer said. “We’re playing better golf at the end of the year, and that’s where you need to be. It was a super-windy day, conditions were a little bit tough, so I’m pleased and excited that they get to go as a team and have one more chance at a Final Four again. It’s two years in a row we’ve gotten fourth at state, so one more time, that’d be great.”
Wagner finished with a 76 in the Big 8 outing, a stroke behind Catholic Reagan Zibilski, but the Rogersville senior came out on top this time around. Wagner hit a 35 on the front nine Monday, two strokes better than Zibilski, and an eagle on Hole 12 helped her to the gold-medal finish. Zibilski finished tied with teammate Kyleigh Pfitzner for second individually with a 74.
“Yeah, I’m satisfied,” Wagner said with a laugh. “I knew this morning when I woke up the conditions weren’t going to be what I wanted, but I thought if I could just hit near the green and rely on my short game today it was going to be good. I paid extra attention to my short game instead of range, and I think that paid off a lot.”
“It’s my last time playing a tournament out here for high school, so just to have fun was what I was thinking when I came out here.”
Wagner has taken top honors individually at various tournaments, but it’s proven more evasive in ones where the Lady Irish are among the field as well, until Monday. “Every time I come out here, it’s always competition between me and the Catholic girls, and as badly as I want to beat all of them, it’s more about putting a good number down,” she said. “Every tournament you come out here, it’s like, ‘I need to shoot this to win,’ and I think that gets in my head a lot. If you come out and play your game, it works a lot better.”
Rogersville sophomore March Mantala carded an 89, while Carlie Aultman, dealing with lingering wrist tendonitis, still managed an 89, and Corrine Swearingen hit 98 for the Lady Wildcats. Mantala and Aultman finished seventh and eighth, respectively, followed by Swearingen's in 10th.
Lady Jays sending three to state
Marshfield freshman Marlee Edgeman put together another superb round in Monday’s state qualifier. Her 77, eight strokes better than at the Big 8 Tournament, helped the Lady Jays to a third-place team finish.
“It’s definitely one of my best scores, especially here,” said Edgeman, who’s personal best at the course is a 75.
Marshfield as a whole improved upon its team score by nine strokes from the conference tourney. Betsy Whitehurst cut 14 off her score from then and finished with a 92, good enough for ninth place.
“I feel like I played pretty well; it was my personal best in a tournament,” said Whitehurst, a sectional qualifier last season.
The Lady Jays senior showed her satisfaction after finishing with a par on the conventional 18th hole. “I normally don’t do well on 18 here and I parred it for the first time, so I was pretty happy about that,” Whitehurst said.
Whitehurst credited her mindset on the exceptional score. She added, “I think the power of positive thinking [made it possible]. All this week, I’ve been really excited to play and hopeful about going to state for the first time. I was trying to think, ‘You can do it, just shoot your best and be positive.’”
Grace Clark shot a 111, tied with Nevada's Paige Hertzberg for 18th place, the cut-off to qualify for state. Marshfield's Brianna Henderson carded a 123, and Emma Lathan rounded out the group with a 130.
“We talked a lot about the conditions coming up here and how to play it, and I thought that they did that well as far as clubbing up and playing in the wind,” Marshfield head coach Cheratin Hunter said. “Honestly, we weren’t that far off from third [at the conference tournament], and for the girls to see that and to see how close we were considering you have Catholic, a phenomenal team, then Rogersville...to see that we weren’t far behind, I think it put a new perspective in their eyes that we can hang with them. We’ve improved tremendously over the past year.”
The Class 2 state tournament will take place Oct. 19 and 20. It will be held this year at Meadow Lake Acres Country Club in New Bloomfield, just northeast of Jefferson City.