The 2015 Carmel girls swim team has established itself as perhaps the best in U.S. history and certainly the best ever in Indiana.
In conjunction with that, The Indianapolis Star is selecting all-time best teams in the 19 other Indiana high school sports. Selections were made in consultation with experts from around the state.
It had been 33 years since Carmel, which has won more than 100 state championships in all sports, had won one in girls golf. The Greyhounds ended that streak in style on Oct. 5, 2013.
The Greyhounds’ day one score of 300 set the 18-hole state record at The Legends Golf Club, Franklin. The next day’s 304 was the third-best score ever at the state finals. The combined 604 beat the previous state record by 10 strokes – and put the Greyhounds 27 strokes in front of top-ranked Penn.
There was no way Carmel was going to finish second after three runner-up showings from 2009 to 2012.
“I think that we focus less on the record that we broke and more about how amazing it was to share something so meaningful with our best friends,” said Sophie Kelner, who was a junior on the squad. “Golf is thought of as an individual sport, but I think that our legacy shows that it takes a team to accomplish goals such as winning state and breaking the state final record.”
Carmel coach Ken Kelly said greatness is defined by more than a score but acknowledged that the 2013 team was special.
“It’s hard to put one on the pedestal,” Kelly said. “They all mean so much to me. But 2013 definitely set the bar. To think this group … accomplished something no team has ever done on that course was amazing.”
Ranked second entering the state tournament, Carmel won the sectional by 41 strokes but then finished second by two strokes to Zionsville in the regional. A week later, the Greyhounds finished 35 strokes ahead of the Eagles.
Then-senior Makenzie Curtis finished with two-day 146 at state to lead the Greyhounds and tie for third among individuals. Teammate Maggie Rees tied for fourth, Alyssa Cook tied for 15th and Kelner tied for 31st. Freshman Angie Kavanaugh even chipped in solid rounds of 86 and 89.
Kelner said that kind of balance was typical of the Greyhounds.
“I definitely felt that any one of the four of us was capable of posting a low score around par every time we stepped out on the course,” she said. “Since I had some very talented teammates, it took a lot of pressure off because we knew we could count on our teammates, even if we were not having a good day, or my teammates could count on me if they were having an off day.”
But that didn’t really translate into an intrasquad competition.
“We actually are all best friends, and we were more supportive of each other than competitive,” Kelner said. “Our goal of winning state as a team pushed us every day in practice and on the course because we all wanted to be the best teammates we could.”
Kelner is now playing for Cleveland State. Cook has signed with Ball State and Rees with Indiana University.
“That team was deep with talent,” Kelly said. “Those (top) four were very strong, and I think each won an invitational championship, too. (But) I never thought about any records that final day of the state tournament. All I was hoping was to maintain our level of play and not have anyone lose a bunch of strokes.”