Yes, it’s already sectional time. Well, at least for girls golf, which started in early August. Sectional play gets underway this weekend. Here are five things to watch among Central Indiana teams:
Westfield repeat won’t be easy
The Shamrocks finished second in the state tournament last year, but it was far from easy. They needed a fifth-player score to edge Carmel in the sectional, and coach Trevor Neu knows the Greyhounds will pose even tougher competition this year.
“We know that the postseason is all about surviving and advancing to the next week,” he said. “I feel like this year’s Carmel team is better than last year’s. It’s going to be a good sectional and good competition. I like where our players are at right now and how we’re peaking as a team.”
Cailyn Henderson leads the team with a 9-hole average of 35.8 and an 18-hole average of 73.2. Jocelyn Bruch, Margaret Wentz and Adrienne Montalone each have 9-hole averages around 38.
“We have four kids that are capable of being right around par, a couple capable of being under par at times,” Neu said.
But the team, which is searching for its third straight sectional title, is plenty familiar with the importance of the fifth player. Neu expects Morgan Baechle to step up.
“We have what I feel is a solid No. 5 player that’s really important,” he said. “(Morgan) that’s been a four-year letterman and will have been to four sectionals.”
Of course, in order to capture a state title the Rocks will have to go through Evansville North. The Huskies, ranked No. 2 in the state, have won two consecutive state titles and four straight sectional titles.
Greyhounds ready to pounce
Carmel’s Kelly Kluesner says her team is ready to make a statement.
“They are very familiar with how close we came last year,” she said. “It was a great learning experience for us, because we learned that the fifth score can always matter and it can come down to a stroke for us quickly. They’re in a great position if that were to happen again.”
Kluesner said the team focuses on what it can control. But at the same time, everyone knows what’s at stake.
“Our competitor is the course, and obviously trying to stay at par or as close to par as possible (is important),” she said. “But our girls respond well to competition and to playing with better teams. They thrive on it. I don’t see it as a problem for us.”
Rani and Nina Hecht will play No. 1 and No. 2 and Erin Evans will play No. 4.
“I feel like those three players have all peaked at the right time,” Kluesner said.
Area teams looking for sustained success
Cathedral is vying for a sixth consecutive sectional this year. The sixth-ranked Irish finished fifth in the state last year after winning sectionals and regionals, but are still looking for their first state title in program history.
No. 7 Hamilton Southeastern finished third in the state two seasons ago and is looking for its fourth straight sectional title and third regional title in four years. The Royals have won three state titles in recent years (2008, 2010 and 2011).
Zionsville, ranked fifth in the state, is going for its fifth straight sectional title and first regional title since 2013. The Eagles have never won a state title.
Follow IndyStar reporter Matthew VanTryon on Twitter: @MVanTryon.
Where to watch
Fishers, Hamilton Southeastern and Noblesville will tee off from Grandview Golf Course at 9 a.m. Saturday in sectional play.
Ben Davis, Brebeuf, Carmel, Covenant, Guerin Catholic, Cardinal Ritter, Northwest, Pike, Speedway, University and Westfield will tee off at noon Friday from South Grove Golf Course.
Heritage Christian, Bishop Chatard, Broad Ripple, Cathedral, Attucks, Lawrence Central, Lawrence North, North Central, Park Tudor and Warren Central will tee off at noon Saturday from South Grove.
Avon, Brownsburg, Cascade, Danville, Decatur Central, Monrovia, Mooresville, Plainfield, Tri-West and Zionsville will tee off from West Chase Golf Club at 8 a.m. Saturday
Beech Grove, Center Grove, Franklin Central, Franklin Community, Indianapolis Scecina, Shortridge, Perry Meridian, Roncalli, Southport and Whiteland will tee off at 10:30 a.m. Monday from Hickory Stick.