As Julia Johnson, tied for the lead in the opening round of the Division II state golf championships, stood over a birdie putt on the 17th hole, a black crow hovered over the eighth-grade and suddenly broke the deafening silence.
“I was in my zone,” Johnson said. “And I look up and was like, ‘I hope this isn’t going to mess me up.'”
Unfazed by the intruder’s lack of etiquette, the member of Episcopal’s Class of 2017 drilled the 8-footer to take the lead at Shreveport Country Club.
Following a mammoth drive, the diminutive Knight hit a “full” 8-iron to 5 feet on the final hole. The ensuing birdie capped a 2-over 73 — good enough for a two-stroke advantage over Anna Heine of University Lab.
Johnson, who finished third as a seventh-grader last season, is already focused on punching her ticket to college.
“I’m just looking to start something,” she said. “If I win this, it can only get better from here. Colleges would start to notice.”
She’s likely already done that.
Johnson recovered from a disappointing front nine, as a bogey-bogey stretch put her in a funk that normally hinders her game.
“When I get in those rhythms, I don’t usually get out of them,” she said.
However, a par at the extremely difficult dogleg-right, par-4 15th hole put her back in the zone.
Heine’s 75 helped the Cubs take the lead in the team competition. Heine and Maggie Westbrook combined to give University a 173 total, and an eight-stroke edge over defending state champion McGehee.
With the help of Sydney Cavin’s 86, Dunham is 14 strokes off the pace in third place.
Playing as an individual, Taylor Kennedy of Runnels is third heading into Thursday’s final round after opening with an 80.
Defending state champion Lana Hodge of Ouachita Christian and reigning runner-up Angelica Harris of McGehee are eight back after 81s.
Bethany Loupe of Berwick posted an 82.
In the Division I competition, St. Thomas More’s Lauren Aillet was the only golfer to break 80 on the century-old venue boasting slick greens, tight fairways and thick rough.
Aillet, who finished fourth last year, shot a 79.
An 84 from Danielle Perez gave the four-time defending state champion Cougars a 163 total and a seven-stroke advantage over St. Joseph’s Academy. St. Scholastica is 13 behind.
Perez, Savannah Ennis (St. Scholastica) and Tayler Thompson (St. Joseph’s Academy) head a tight pack ready to pounce in the individual race.
Two golfers (Olivia Hansen, St. Louis; Emily Pellerin, New Iberia) posted 85s while another pair (Mattison McCain, Grant; Jessica Varner, St. Joseph’s) shot 86.
Division I team standings
St. Thomas More163
St. Joseph’s Academy170
Division I individual standings
Lauren Aillet, St. Thomas More79
Savannah Ennis, St. Scholastica84
Tayler Thompson, St. Joseph’s Academy84
Danellie Perez, St. Thomas More84
Oliva Hansen, St. Louis85
Emily Pellerin, New Iberia85
Mattison McCain, Grant86
Jessica Varner, St. Joseph’s Academy86
Hillary Washington, Teurlings Catholic89
Jackie Odom, Zachary89
Emily Klein, St. Scholastica92
Camille Savoie, St. Michael95
Emily Moore, Zachary93
Sarah Hunt, Hammond96
Olivia Lacassio, St. Joseph’s Academy99
Leigh Morgan, Ortego St. Thomas More99
Megan Johnson, Ursuline Academy103
Jonna Frantz, Mandeville104
Caitlyn Bernard, Archbishop Chapelle105
Abigail Dore’, St. Louis106
Reagan Church, Mandeville106
Denise Frantz, Mandeville106
Sydni Sumas, Ursuline Academy107
Lucy Cho, Franklin, Ben108
Josie Cortez, Central Lafourche112
Chase Encalade, Academy of Our Lady113
Sarah Vallon, Ursuline Academy120
Kayla Elmer, Archbishop Chapelle127
Division II Team standings
Holy Savior Menard196
Division II individual standings
Julia Johnson, Episcopal73
Anna Heine, University Lab 75
Taylor Kennedy, Runnels80
Lana Hodge, Ouachita Christian81
Angelica Harris, McGehee81
Bethany Loupe, Berwick82
Madeline Gordon, MP Country Day85
Sydney Cavin, Dunham86
Aoife O’Donovan, St. Fredrick90
Madison Bates, Holy Savior Menard92
Emily Lucas, Notre Dame94
Shrayon Thibodeaux, Catholic97
Maggie Westbrook, University Lab98
Oliva Boutte, McGehee100
Emma Lavergne, Notre Dame100
Courtney Fischer, Dunham101
Emily Ryan, Marksville102
Catherine Buchan, Sterlington103
Ame Hensel, Holy Savior Menard104
Cassidy Goff, Notre Dame105
Holland Garner, University Lab106
Victoria Moore, Mansfield106
Kassie Cole, Castor107
Alexis Breaux, Catholic109
Carly Phillips, Holy Savior Menard122
Aine Muhumuza, Dunham128
DeLaney LaTour, Castor131
Caroline Buchan, Sterlington142
Lindsey Warre, Castor151