ANDERSON — After Columbus North carded 163 on the first nine holes in Saturday’s Lapel Regional at Edgewood Golf Club, its chances of returning to the Girls Golf State Finals looked slim.
With the chance of making it to state hanging in the balance, the third-ranked Bull Dogs made a huge charge. They responded by firing a 156 on the back nine to score a 319 to capture second place as a team and earn another trip to the state finals, which will be Friday and Saturday at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel.
No. 5 Cathedral won the regional with a 311, led by Betsy Werner’s medalist round of 70. No. 9 Fishers edged No. 7 Hamilton Southeastern 323-324 for the third and final qualifying spot, while No. 17 Noblesville claimed fifth with a 325.
North coach Scott Seavers liked seeing his team step up at such a critical time.
“They had their good holes and their bad holes, but somehow they found a way to straighten things out, and it was good enough for us to hang on,” Seavers said. “(Assistant) coach (Brett) White and I were getting nervous all day long. They never gave up, and it shows that every single stroke counts. It was a great day for everyone seeing how things ended.”
Holly Anderson led the Bull Dogs with a 75.
“I think something just clicked for us,” Anderson said of the comeback.
She was more even more thrilled once she found out she would be returning to the state finals.
“I’m just so happy for the team and it feels great that we get to do this again,” Anderson said.
A lot of golfers had trouble with their short games Saturday, but not Alex Munnicha, whose chipping and putting gave the Bull Dogs another solid round with a 76. This will be the freshman’s first trip to the state championship.
“I’m excited for it,” Munnicha said. “When any one of us struggles, we know that another one of us will pick it up and get that extra boost of confidence.”
Seavers was glad to see Munnicha perform so well as a freshman under intense pressure.
“We knew this golf course would set up well for her because her short game is so good,” Seavers said.
Danbi Kim struggled on the front nine with a 43, but stormed back with a 39 to finish with an 82. Julia Luken started off slow with a front-nine 46, but finished with an 86 after scoring a 40 on the back. Aubrey Smith had a 50 on the front and a 44 back for a 94.
While the golfers got backed up on one hole, Kim had a chance to talk to Munnicha for a moment.
“Alex told me she was doing well, and it made me feel better and I wanted to finish strong, knowing we still had a chance to go to state,” Kim said.
Columbus East ends its season in 10th place with a 354.
“Overall, I am generally pleased with how the season went,” East coach Troy Buntin said. “Our top three golfers didn’t play much golf over the summer because of travel and graduating early.”
Rebecca Smith led the Olympians with a 79. Smith came up four shots shy of qualifying for state as an individual. Smith, who is a senior, is still undecided if she wants to continue competitive golf in college.
“It comes down to whether I want to go to a big school or a smaller school,” Smith said.
DePauw is one of those small schools on Smith’s short list.
“If I decide to go there, then I will probably play,” Smith said.
Senior Nicole Bodi ended her Olympians career by shooting an 88. Megan Hashimoto, who is also a senior, finished with a 90.
“It has been really nice to see myself grow,” Bodi said. “It was not my best golf my senior year, but I have changed a lot mentally, and I don’t get that upset when I hit a terrible shot.”
“I was glad that I improved a lot this year,” Hashimoto said. “I played my two best 18-hole scores at sectional (87) and regional.”
Lily Shelp rounded out the Olympians scoring with a 97. Autumn Fateley carded a 103.
With the loss of his top three golfers for next year, Buntin will rely on Fateley and Shelp to anchor the team next season.
“It was a year of growth for both of them and they will work really hard and get ready for next season,” Buntin said. “Now, I have to fill the back of my lineup and see who earns the 3, 4, and 5 spots.”