After a golf season spent playing with the boys, freshmen Lexi Bubenchik and Makyla Lewellen welcomed the change of scenery Wednesday.
Their scores were a reflection of that.
John Glenn’s Bubenchik shot 82 and Maysville’s Lewellen posted an 83 as both advanced from the 12-team Division II girls sectional at River Greens.
They joined West Muskingum junior Erica Mawhorr, who also qualified with 83. The trio will play in Tuesday’s district at Blacklick Woods.
The top four teams and individuals from non-qualifying teams reached the district.
Bubenchik, who made nine pars and just one double bogey, was third of 72 players. Lewellen and Mawhorr tied for fourth.
“I was very nervous,” Bubenchik said. “At the beginning of the week I was excited and was counting down the days until (Wednesday) got here. But then each day would come and I would get more nervous. Then I hit my first tee shot down the middle and I knew everything was going to be ok.”
Bubenchik, who began playing competitively at 9, shot 41s on the Green and Pines courses. It tied the best score of her career.
She usually shot in the mid-to-high 90s during boys matches, where girls must play from the same tees.
That made playing the red tees in this event a welcome break.
“Just to keep my spot on the John Glenn (reserve) team is incredibly difficult with the skill level we have on our team right now,” Bubenchik said. “I knew it was going to be easier playing from the reds.”
Lewellen found herself in a similar situation as a member of the Panther boys team that needed her services to fill out the varsity roster.
Maysville coach Greg Vaughn called her round Monday, when she never scored worse than a bogey: “The best round I’ve ever seen her play.
“She played great. When we played (Tuesday), she was hitting the driver all over the place, then we get out on the range this morning and she striped everything right down the middle. She missed some short putts or else she would have been in the 70s.”
Like Bubenchik, she also benefitted from the shorter tees. Her length allowed for several short approaches on the par 4s.
“I didn’t really have any bad holes,” said Lewellen, who never had worse than bogey. “I stayed out of the trees for the most part.
“I think playing with girls was a big help. They’re a lot nicer out there to play with than the boys are.”
Mawhorr will make her second consecutive district appearance after also shooting 83 to qualify as a sophomore.
The Tornadoes were fifth with 399. Hannah Tincher (87), Megan O’Donnell (114) and Sarah Gutridge (115) also scored for West Muskingum.
“I played all right, but I had higher expectations for myself,” Mawhorr said. “I was planning on being in the 70s.”
She hoped the team also would advance. Tincher answered her 50 on the front nine with a 1-over 37 on the back, but the slow start was tough to overcome.
“It was very hard,” Mawhorr said. “Obviously I want to see my teammates move on, especially (Tincher) because she worked as hard as I did and this is her senior year.”
Also narrowly missing out was Rosecrans senior Leah Baughman, who like Tincher struggled on the front nine with a 48.
She answered with a 38 on the back nine that included two birdies, but the gap was too wide to close. Her 86 left her three shots back.
She was the No. 2 player on the Bishop boys team during the regular season, when she regularly outscored boys. She was sectional medalist as a junior.
“It presented a challenge and I’m a pretty competitive person,” Baughman said. “I tried to rescue (the round), but it was just too much. The fact I was so close, a few shots on the front would have been the difference. It’s not really the way I wanted to finish my senior year.”
Dover won the team event with 334, followed by Minerva (376), Strasburg (377) and Garaway (377). Just five teams broke 400.
Dover’s Courtney Shutt was overall medalist with 74. Teammate Kaitlyn Shutt was second with 78.