HANCOCK COUNTY – The 2021 Indiana high school golf season has arrived.
With the first official practice conducted last Friday, seasonal competitions are expected to begin across the state today.
The first team to return to the links is Hancock County and the Mt. Vernon section finalist, who will be anchored by a pair of top executives.
Greenfield-Central, which ended a 26-year drought for the IHSAA State Finals last fall, is back welcoming a pair of varsity leftovers from its 2020 repeat sectional championship lineup to maintain l ‘momentum.
New Palestine gained valuable experience in 2020 and seeks to rise through the county ranks with a multitude of depth and talent.
Eastern Hancock will rely on a pair of returning players with considerable college time recorded last year to lead their revamped squad.
With the season upon us, here’s a glimpse of a new year.
The Greenfield-Central women’s golf team begins its road season Thursday at host Whiteland for a three-way game with Columbus East.
However, the second of two Cougars games scheduled for this week – at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel for the state preview on Saturday – will see them come full circle from a year ago.
The first team in the program’s history to reach the IHSAA national final since 1994, the Cougars had a memorable race in 2020.
Greenfield-Central won a trio of tag team titles last season, winning the Hancock County tournament for a second straight year, the first meeting of the Hoosier Heritage Conference since 2008 and a repeat championship in the section. The Cougars’ back-to-back streak was the team’s first repeat since they won four back-to-back wins from 1988-91.
At the state, the group placed 13th overall with a two-round team score of 748 at Prairie View, with senior graduate Caroline Gibson tied for 22nd in the individual standings.
The Cougars sectional championship was cemented with an academic record of 340. Their third place finish at the Lapel Regional, which propelled them to the state finals, solidified with a 345.
During the HHC tournament, the Cougars shot a 344 to set a new school record, which they later broke in the playoffs.
While the Cougars have lost three of their top golfers to graduation, including Gibson, Tandess O’Neal and Haley Hoagland, they earned Honorable Mentions in the IHSGCA Preseason Girls Golf Poll 2021.
Part of the reason is past success, but another is the return of two of the roster’s top five contenders, Sydnie Wherry and Katie Curry.
The duo were respectively the 4th and 5th golfers on the team last season and will now lead the new-look squad.
Among the players looking to progress and complete are seniors Brynn Elliott and Abby Mulligan. Sophomore Ella Neill is also returning.
Sophomore Reagan Breese will rotate at the varsity level, while Tanessa O’Neal, Tandess’ younger sister, and rookie Della Hodge will also be in the game.
âOverall, I can’t wait to live another year and try to defend our section title,â said Greenfield-Central head coach Russ Wiley. âObviously we lost a lot of the squad last year, but I feel pretty optimistic, especially with the seniors who played three years, but we’ll see. The girls have been working hard on their own this offseason and can’t wait to play. “
The Cougars were 16-1 in nine-hole competitions in 2019 and 17-3 in 2020.
âFrom what I can see, everyone is looking a little better where the season ended and I hope that will continue to be the case throughout the season,â said Wiley.
The New Palestine Women’s Golf Team’s season kicks off on their home course on Monday August 9 against the visiting community of Greenwood.
As they’ve lost a trio of talented seniors from their 2020 lineup, including top golfers Megan Diller and Abby Belgin, the Dragons return to experienced ties and with plenty of depth to face this fall.
At the top of the 2021 returnee list is outstanding junior Zoe Nelson, who competed as the team’s No.2 golfer last season. Nelson clocked a team best 94 in second year at the Hoosier Heritage Conference 2020 tournament to help the team secure fifth place overall.
At the section level, Nelson carded a team-leading 98 at Hawk’s Tail of Greenfield, which was essential as the Dragons finished third with a 413 to advance to the Lapel Regional at Edgewood.
The Dragons finished 17th regionally, with Nelson posting the team’s third-best score at 104.
This year, Nelson will be joined by fellow returnees junior Ava Hasecuster and sophomores Lauren Appleby, Hanna Beller and Kate Stanfield. Beller competed as the Dragons’ fifth golfer in the playoffs, scoring a 111 in the sectional and a 113 in the regional.
In addition to the five veterans of the team, the Dragons also welcome new recruits Rachel Hamilton, Janie Hamilton, Lily Kirchner and Oliva Smith.
New Palestine finished the 2020 regular season with a 5-8 record in doubles competition.
âNelson, Beller and Stanfield have had a lot of game experience since last year. We don’t have any seniors this year, but I think Zoe and Ava will provide great leadership to their young teammates, âsaid New Palestine head coach Sarah O’Brien. âThis group has a lot of potential so I’m very excited about this group. It’s a big group of young women and they have a lot of enthusiasm.
The Eastern Hancock Women’s Golf Team opens its season Thursday at Royal Hylands when it hosts Wapahani.
The Royals finished the 2020 season with a 6-9 record in head coach Dustin Eck’s first season at the helm.
For the sophomore year, Eck is looking to build on a pair of seniors for leadership and a trio of underclasses to push the Royals into their second victorious season in three years. The Royals went 14-8 in 2019.
âWe are a young team with good senior leadership,â Eck said. âThe underclassmen worked hard this summer and improved their games through camps and lessons. We hope to build on last year and continue to have fun and improve. “
Among the main returnees are the elderly Inez Friddle and Shelby Jackson, who won the program’s Royal Pride award for 2020.
Last year in the section, Friddle was revealed to be the team’s No.2 golfer, shooting a 117, while Jackson was the Royals’ second-leading scorer in the county tournament with a total of nine. 54 holes behind Haleigh Cavaletto, senior graduate.
The Royals’ best scoring of 2020 came against Randolph Southern on the road with a 211. The team shot 229 or better in each of their six wins.
Emily Grant, a sophomore, returns after being the team’s fifth golfer last fall. Newcomers Abby Bolding and Hannah Dolence round out the lineup for 2021.
Mount. The Vernon Women’s Golf Team opens the 2021 season at the top of the county programs with a road game at the Hoosier Heritage Conference against Pendleton Heights today at 4:30 p.m.
They will travel to HHC rival Shelbyville on Wednesday before hosting Center Grove on Saturday.
The Marauders continue to improve and last year was no exception.
In 2018, Alaina Nugent was the only mount. Competitor of Vernon to qualify for the regional. The following year, she was joined by her classmate Meredith Johnson.
In 2020, the team broke through and made a collective regional appearance, advancing with a second place in the sectional (366) behind Greenfield-Central’s 340.
Nugent, the team’s No.1 golfer, placed fourth overall with a score of 84, while Johnson shot a 94. A solid duo in the lineup, the tandem barely worked on their own.
Mackenzie Miner, the daughter of head coach Mike Miner, earned a 96 section card in 2020 as a junior. Haidyne Cauldwell, a sophomore last fall, anchored the team’s roster in fifth place.
The only loss the team suffered due to graduation this offseason was senior Emily Rollo, who posted the Marauders’ second-best section score at 92.
At the regional level in 2020, Mt. Vernon concluded his season ninth in the team standings with a 375, led by Nugent’s 81 and Johnson’s 91.
The duo return to senior in 2021 and are determined to take the next step.
The pair both took home all-county honors in 2020 as the Marauders shot 189 for second place in the tournament. Greenfield-Central won the event and the team title with a 175.
Nugent was one step away from matching Caroline Gibson (37) of Greenfield-Central for county medal honors, and Johnson was fourth at 44.
Mount. Vernon finished fourth in the HHC meeting with a 386, while Yorktown (374) and Delta (375) came in behind champion Greenfield-Central (344).
Nugent again finished second in the overall individual standings with an 80 at the HHC, finishing behind Gibson at 76.
A breakout season could become a reality for Nugent this season after nearly winning county medalist honors in year one, placing third in year two and fifth at the HHC meet in 2019.
Indiana HS Golf Coaches Association
2021 Pre-Season Women’s Golf Survey
Sunday August 1, 2021
Rank, Team; Points; Votes for 1st place
1. Evansville North; 120; 6
2. Westfield; 110; –
3. Carmel; 106; –
4. Family property; 103; –
5. Grove Center; 88; –
6. North Columbus; 83; –
6. Hamilton South East; 83; –
8. Noblesville; 81; –
9. Culver Academy; 80; –
10. Castle; 62; –
11. Franklin Community; 61; –
12. Penn; 55; –
13. Zionsville; 52; –
14. NorthWood; 43; –
15. Western; 36; –
16. Brownsburg; 32; –
17. Floyd Central; 26; –
18. Crown Point; 22; –
18. Floyd Central; 22; –
18. Batesville; 22; –
Honorable mentions: Reverse, Concord, Greenfield-Central, Lebanon, Fort Wayne Carroll