BUTLER – The Mason County girls’ golf team knew returning to state as a team for the 10th straight year would be a tall task with such a young group.
But they were still hoping to send at least one golfer when they went to Northern Kentucky Golf Club for the Region 8 tournament on Tuesday.
Scott County’s Rylea Marcum shot a 2-under 70 to claim her second straight Region 8 individual title and lead Scott County to the team title, while George Rogers Clark came away with the team runner-up finish. Their were still four individual qualifying spots, but Mason County sophomore Charity Arn’s 30-over 102, which paced the fourth-place Lady Royals, was one stroke behind the fourth individual qualifying position.
“It’s a great sign for the future. We sent out two sophomores out there this afternoon. They were the catalysts, Charity Arn and Haley White,” said Mason County assistant coach Jason Butler. “Both have been great with our young kids. We had a team composed of seven – two sophomores today, then I had two seventh graders on the course and an eighth grader. The future is bright. Our other two kids, they were both in the middle school as well. The future is bright.
“It was a good day for us. We improved all season long, coming up just a little bit short individually with Charity Arn missing out by a stroke of going back to Bowling Green,” added Butler. “That’s been a familiar territory for our girls’ team, and that’s what we’re striving to get back to. It’s going to take a lot of work, but we’ve got kids who are eager and wanting to get better.”
A slow start hurt Arn and the rest of the Lady Royals, who were gunning for a return to the state tournament a year after finishing eighth. The 2016 team also included individual state champion Sarah Fite, who is now playing at the University of Kentucky.
Arn started on the 14th hole and by the time she finished it she was 3-over par. White started on the par-4 13th hole, requiring nine strokes to complete it. Macie Littleton was 4-over after her first hole, while Emily Wood was 3-over and Abby Allison was 2-over. Butler believes the five felt the nerves of playing in the regional tournament.
“I think it was just from a different position they were in, especially my older two, from last year. The other three kids had never even been in this type of regional tournament,” said Butler. “Getting them out there this year will be huge for us moving forward.”
Mason County was able to regroup, especially Arn, who finished with a 30-over 102. The top two teams in the tournament qualify for the state tournament, and the top four individual finishers not on a qualifying team also advance.
Pendleton County’s Emilie Bertram came in with a 16-over 88, and Bourbon County’s Casey Beheler finished with a 102. Bishop Brossart’s Abby Cook had her score of 88 posted after, which was followed by a 91 from Harrison County’s Kenzie Jones, meaning if no better scores came, Arn would be in a playoff with Beheler for the final spot in Bowling Green.
But the trip won’t take place this fall for the Mason County sophomore, as Bourbon County’s Libby Courtney, the team’s number three golfer, posted a 29-over 101 to earn the final individual spot.
The Lady Royals shot a team total of 443, which landed them in fourth. Littleton finished at 105, White at 107, Wood at 129 and Allison at 145.
“From a standpoint mentally, I’ve seen our kids grow a bunch. Golf - it’s a mental game, man, it’s a mental game. They matured a lot throughout the season,” said Butler. “I can remember the very first time I was with them in Mount Sterling. It took seven, seven and a half hours to play 18 holes, and today we got it done in four and a half. From that, you’re hitting the ball further and you’re scoring a little bit better.”
Scott County breezed through the tournament with all five golfers finishing in the top 10 to finish with a 318. They were led by individual champion Rylea Marcum’s 2-under 70. Grace Lawler finished with a 77, while Tori Cambron finished third with an 8-over 80.
George Rogers Clark came in second, 60 strokes behind Scott County, with the help of two top 10 finishes. Hannah Curreri shot a 13-over 85 to finish fourth individually, while Molly Franklin finished seventh with an 18-over 90.
Bourbon County finished third at 428, while Bishop Brossart came in fifth, three strokes behind Mason County. Harrison County came in sixth and Pendleton County finished seventh.
The first round of the girls’ state tournament will be played on Oct. 6 at Bowling Green Country Club.