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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Homestead sectional and regional champion Emma Schroeder feels confident about her team being successful at the state finals, which begin today at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel.

Friday, September 29, 2017 1:00 am

Teeing off on big stage

Area players, teams ready for glory in Carmel

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

Girls Golf state finals

When: Today-Saturday

Where: Prairie View Golf Club, Carmel

Par: 72

Local teams: Homestead, DeKalb, Bishop Dwenger

Local individuals: Gabby Kelly, Angola; Madeleine Pape, Bishop Luers

The Homestead girls golf team has one goal entering today's state championships at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel: Win.

The Spartans finished sixth in the two-day event last year, seven strokes behind fifth-place Carmel and 44 behind winner Evansville North.

With a state-best 296 at the East Noble regional at Noble Hawk, Homestead coach Jeff Jehl is expecting big things out of his team.

“Last year was the first time any of those girls had stepped on to that stage,” he said. “Bringing all those girls back, having all that experience will be really important for us. ... With that experience in our pocket, I'm looking forward to a really good weekend.

“Prairie View is very penal if you don't hit the ball straight, keeping the ball in play. Our short game's really good and those greens are pretty similar to those we played today, so if we can keep the ball in play off the tee and stay mentally present through the whole round, we can have a really great weekend.”

Sectional and regional champion Emma Schroeder has seen the course “five to seven times” and feels confident in her and her team's ability for this weekend. She finished tied for 34th with a two-day 164 at last year's state finals.

“I think having the momentum that I do right now is really good,” she said, “so I'm just focused on getting the best score I can.

“Our No. 1 didn't play as well (at regional), so it was really nice to know that we had a team to back up on and that if we have someone who doesn't play well, we have someone there to cover.”

Although Homestead No. 1 player Morgan Dabagia didn't play her best at regional, she finished tied for fifth with a two-day 6-over 150 at last year's state championships.

“From top to bottom, we have a really strong program and that's just a testament to all the hard work that all the girls put forth,” Jehl said.

“It's just so important that this time of year to start playing our best golf because we want to get down there to the state finals and do our best and see what we can do, see if we can't pull one out for the Spartans.”

Bishop Dwenger, which finished third at the regional, returns four of five competitors from last year's 15th-place team.

“I think they're familiar with the course,” coach Megan Ryan said. “That will help them as far as the management goes. ... Making sure we're hitting in fairways and just minimizing the small mistakes, making the putts, having that focus point on our short game.

“It is a tough course, probably the toughest course we play at every season. We're fortunate enough to be back this year, I think definitely it's important that the girls will be getting that experience. I feel fortunate to be back.”

On the opposite side, DeKalb advanced to the state championships as a team for the first time since 2010.

The regional runner-up Barons shot a 317 at Noble Hawk.

“On Aug. 1, we said we knew where we might be able to get to but there was a whole lot of golf to be played yet,” coach Trent Stuckey said, “so for them to persevere through the season and get their best round at the end is really what you want to see so I'm super excited for the girls.

“None of these girls have been to a state championships in anything. I think we're going to enjoy it. We're going to go through scores and set some goals to see where we can compete. For the chance for, individually and as a team, to see where we are with the state's best is everyone's goal.”

Individually, Bishop Luers' Madeleine Pape and Angola's Gabby Kelly hadn't seen the course until Thursday's practice round.

“I don't really know what to expect,” Kelly said. “I'm going to go in there and play as good as I did on Saturday (at the regional). ... I'd say my (strengths are my) tee shots with accuracy, which will help at Prairie View.”

Pape will be focusing on fundamentals and things she knows she can control.

“Just being consistent overall, keeping the ball in play off the tee,” she said, “hitting greens and definitely getting down and my speed better.”

areichel@jg.net