BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – For the first time in more than a decade, the Kokomo Lady Wildkats are the queens of the local golf scene. Playing at Chippendale Golf Course, Kokomo shot a 352 to win the Western Girls Golf Sectional by five-strokes over four-time defending sectional champion Western. Northwestern earned the third automatic regional qualifier position with a 358 while No. 15 Tipton shot a 360 to finish a surprising fourth.
“It was a nice surprise to take first-place,” said Kokomo head coach Andy Carpenter. “I think it surprised everybody else more.”
In the battle for individual low medalist, it was a battle of state finalists as Tipton’s Emma Kelley edged Kokomo’s Kiah Parrott 74 to 76. Northwestern’s Allison Miller was third with an 80. Kelley, Maconaquah’s Brianna Smiley (91) and Tipton’s Ava Clouser (92) advance as individuals to the Lafayette Jefferson Regional this Saturday. Maconaquah finished fifth as a team with a round of 388, followed by Peru (392) Logansport (412), Eastern (435), Lewis Cass (477), North Miami (500) and Taylor (no score).
Carpenter said the victory was a true team championship as each member contributed. Molly Mavrick shot an 89, Haley Salinas a 93 and Madie Harris a 94. For Harris, it was her second consecutive sub-100 round.
“If you look at our history, our teams know how to turn it on for the sectional,” said Carpenter. “I am proud how hard my girls work and to see it pay off. It takes all five varsity girls pushing each other all the time.”
Carpenter noted that the Lady Kats were sitting second at the turn and played a strong final nine holes.
“With Tipton, Western and Northwestern behind us, we just had to play our game,” he said. “After all teams made the turn, Western was in the lead with a 171 and we were in second with a 173. All we could do was keep playing and hope for the best.”
Earlier in the week, the Lady Kats placed third in the North Central Conference meet; Parrott shot a 73 for low medalist honors. The sectional title was the first for Kokomo since 2007 and seventh overall (1985, 1987, 1989, 2005 and 2006).
Torrie Smith led Western with an 82, followed by Trina Gill (88), Ella Williamson (94) and Madyson Smith (96). Following Miller for Northwestern was Amanda Wilson (89), Audrey Koetter (90) and Kristin Piel (99). Gwyn Zirkle led Eastern with a 102 and Lily Parker shot a 110 for Taylor.