The Cooper Jaguars own consecutive 7th Region girls golf crowns and placed fifth in state both years.
Cooper returns every golfer from last year’s team except Jalena Hardcorn, who graduated. That includes the two-time 7th Region individual medalist in sophomore Reagan Ramage.
But some changes took place this year in terms of making it to the state round. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association said that it hopes the change increases the number of golfers advancing past the regional tournaments and to create more postseason opportunities.
After regional play, a ‘state first round’ takes place at three locations. Northern Kentucky teams will play that round at Heritage Hill Golf Course in Shepherdsville. Each region will see 20 golfers advance to the state first round for a total of 80 golfers.
The state first rounds will comprise of the top two teams and top 10 individuals from non-advancing teams from each region. In previous years, only the winning team and top seven individuals not on that qualifying team made state. A total of 90 golfers with the top three teams and 15 individuals from non-advancing teams from each site will advance to state. There will be no first-day cuts at state like previous years.
The bad news for the likes of Cooper, Notre Dame and others from the area that make it out of the 7th and 8th Regions is that they will have to take on Louisville powers like Sacred Heart and Assumption to make it to Bowling Green.
That is why Cooper Head Coach Joe Deters made this year’s schedule one in which the Lady Jaguars will see those teams during the regular season multiple times.
“I think that’s going to make the state field stronger because there were some teams from the Lexington and Louisville areas that got eliminated in the regionals,” Deters said. “The sub-state is going to give them a better chance to get through. Having that sub-state level is going to give more kids locally a chance to play (at state), which is a good thing. But your team has to be good that day or you could get knocked out and not even make it to Bowling Green.”
Cooper claimed the top four spots at the region tournament on its way to a 322 score. Juniors Eva Maley and Kendall Brissey finished behind Ramage’s 74 score with 79 and 84 scores respectively. Senior Skylar Anderson is the fourth returning golfer from that team. Deters said junior Ava Finke has risen to take the fifth spot.
“They all play a lot of golf off-season,” Deters said. “Obviously, we’ll be playing a decent amount here in the school season. But they all play a lot of summer tournaments. I think that really shows through because they get used to going out and competing for 18 holes that really once you get to the post-season in high school, it’s all about whether you can keep it together and be good for 18 holes. They’re dedicated that way for sure.”
Deters said more consistency is needed to catch the four teams that finished in front of them. That includes working through rough patches. Cooper finished with a team total of 690 in the two-day state tournament last year, which was 76 strokes behind state champion Marshall County’s 614. Madison Central (652), Sacred Heart (664) and Madisonville-North Hopkins (674) took the next four spots.
Notre Dame Pandas:
The Pandas shot 355 to take second in the 7th Region Tournament. Clare Hooper and Hannah Rice graduated from that time and Rice took her talents to Thomas More University.
But Notre Dame veteran head coach Karen Henderson and staff do return 60 percent of last year’s scoring. Those returning golfers are seniors Sammi Flowers, Natalie Lovell and sophomore Didi Jiradamkerng, who placed sixth in the region tournament shooting 86 last year.
“Returning players are required if possible to play in summer tournaments,” Henderson said. “They’re eager. They want to get better.”
After those three, Henderson said five promising freshmen are battling for the last two spots. Only the top four scores in each tournament or match count toward the overall team score.
St. Henry Crusaders:
The Crusaders captured an All “A” 9th Region Tournament crown last year and finished eighth in the All “A” State Tournament before taking third in the 7th Region. One senior graduated from that team.
Senior Allyson Egan, juniors Lexie McMillin, Molly Brue and sophomore Carley Apgar return. The Crusaders also saw Brooklyn Callioni transfer over from Villa Madonna.
“These girls a few years ago hadn’t even played golf,” said Mary Beth Beimesch, St. Henry Head Coach. “They’re development has been great. They’re great kids and have great parents. I’ve been real lucky to coach them. The best is yet to come and they know it.”
The first matches began July 22.
The Pandas are the only team in Boone, Kenton or Campbell Counties that has won a state championship in girls golf. Notre Dame has four crowns winning them over a five-year span between 1979 to 1983.
Notre Dame also has one of two individual state champions from those three counties when Bonnie Overman won it in 1980. Boone County’s Lori Oldendick won the other one in 1984.