October 4, 2021
The Westfield Girls Golf team finished in third place of the IHSAA Girls State Championship that took place this past Friday and Saturday at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana.
The Rocks got off to a hot start early on Friday morning. Sophomore Samantha Brown opened up her second consecutive state championship appearance with three birdies in her first four holes, including one on the tough par-3 fourth hole.
However, the Rocks cooled off a bit to finish the first day, as they found themselves as low as seventh place out of the fifteen competitors. Senior Sophie McGinnis was the Rocks’ frontrunner after day one with an opening-round 76, closely followed by Brown with a 79, senior Brette Hanavan with an 84, and senior Allie Hildebrand and freshman Addi Kooi each with 85s.
As day two of the State Finals came, the Rocks knew that they needed to play well in order to finish atop the leaderboard. After all, the team had been in the top-3 of the IHSAA Coaches Poll for the entirety of the season, including spending multiple weeks in the number one spot. The current number one team, Evansville North, had a commanding lead after day one, but the Rocks were not going to go down without a fight.
The Saturday forecast showed potential rainfall towards the back end of the round, but the weather could not have been more ideal as the Rocks began to tee off at around 9:45 am. Hanavan, the third Rock to tee off, helped set the tone for the day with a high tight fade off of one tee box, just eclipsing the fairway bunkers that guarded the right side of the fairway. Shortly after, McGinnis threw a dart into the back-right hole one pin location, converting for an early birdie to start her day.
Hole four at Prairie View proved to be a menace once again. With a pin location located just a few paces onto the front protected by a mammoth greenside bunker, being short was not ideal. Addi Kooi found herself in the bunker but hit a dazzling sand shot before draining her putt for par.
As a drizzle started to fall much earlier than expected, Sam Brown stood on the fifth tee box, frustrated with herself after just having put her tee shot into the ensuing fairway bunker, a tee shot that she had intended to lay up with. Brown hit an incredible shot from the bunker, finding herself with a makeable putt for birdie in which she converted. Shortly after, the skies opened up and the match went to a rain delay, shortly after 11:30 am.
Rocks head coach Trevor Neu was confident that the rain delay would give the team the chance to regain focus heading into the rest of the day.
“Several of our girls are sitting on a positive hole, including several birdies,” Neu stated. “We get to restart this round with a positive mindset.”
After about two hours of downtime, players were able to start warming up again at around 1:30 pm, before play was set to resume at 2:00 pm.
Brown took to the par-3 sixth hole after the long break, and she found herself short of the green off of the tee. Brown hit a magical pitch shot into the green before draining the par putt, just the momentum she needed for the rest of the round.
“I have twelve more birdies left in me,” Brown stated.
Brown found herself in a comfortable position hitting her third into the tight par-5 seventh. With a wedge in hand, Samantha stuffed one into the back-center hole location. The Westfield following erupted in celebration as Brown drilled her birdie putt, her second birdie in three holes.
The Rocks stalled in the middle of the round, nearly missing on several opportunities for birdie.
“We are hitting the ball really well today, “junior Allie McKeown said. “We are burning a ton of edges today, not to mention all of the lip-outs.”
As Evansville North’s incredible play continued on day two, the race for first was all but over; however, the Rocks were determined to finish within the top-3, and the only thing keeping them from doing so was a tough Castle squad.
Coming down the stretch, the Rocks were in need of a few more birdies. Sophie McGinnis had iron in hand as she made her way to the tee box of the tough par-3 fifteenth hole. Just after her playing partner, HSE star Marissa Spreitzer had put one right on the pin, McGinnis stepped up and hit a beautiful shot. McGinnis, needing birdie, struck the putt and started walking it in as the putt sank to the bottom of the cup.
“She’s walking it in!” cried McGinnis’s father from the side.
The Rocks needed a couple of more birdies, and Addi Kooi helped their cause with one on the par-5 eighteenth hole, a great finish to a promising first season for the freshman.
Pars on 18 from seniors Brette Hanavan and Sophie McGinnis set the stage for Samantha Brown, who had another wedge into the green. Brown hit her approach to about three feet before tapping in her kick-in birdie.
The Rocks finished in third place, two shots better than Castle.
With a great campaign during the 2021 season, the resilient Rocks will look to build off of their third-place finish next season.