Franklin and Center Grove will both be represented at the state girls golf finals this coming weekend — even if that representation won’t be quite as complete as it could have been due to the IHSAA’s comically imbalanced regionals.
Playing at Smock Golf Course in a field that featured five of the state’s top 11 teams and seven of the top 20, the Grizzly Cubs and Trojans finished where they were supposed to on Saturday, placing fourth and fifth, respectively. But each team has an individual advancing, as Center Grove’s Meg Fosnot (76) and Franklin’s Liv Parramore (77) were both among the five best individual scores outside of the top three teams.
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Third-ranked Zionsville finished first with a team score of 299, led by an 8-under-par 64 from Annabelle Pancake. No. 5 Carmel was second at 313, and No. 4 Westfield earned the final team bid to state with a 316. The Grizzly Cubs (328) and Trojans (331), who finished in the four and five spots for the second year in a row, would have almost certainly advanced out of any other regional, but they did what they could with the hand they were dealt.
“I’m thrilled with how we played today; 328 is pretty good,” Franklin coach Chris Kacarab said. “To have Ava (Ray) and Liv at 77, 78, to have our senior, Alexa (Wilkison), come in with an 89 — but we needed to have three career rounds today. We needed to have 74, 74, 74 to get it, and I knew that coming in, so I can’t say I’m too disappointed. It is frustrating to have such a challenging regional, and I’d like to get some more girls out who are really deserving to make it to state, but we at least got one. Almost got two.
Ray came agonizingly close to joining Parramore at Prairie View Golf Club this week. The sophomore finished with a 78, tied for that fifth and final individual spot, before losing in a sudden-death playoff to Madison’s Keara Eder.
Parramore started her day out strong, with birdies on the 10th and 12th holes setting the tone for a 38 on the back side. She was just as solid on the way in, with a birdie on the par-3 seventh helping her clinch a state berth.
“I just woke up this morning and just felt really good,” she said. “My drives were going really long and straight, and they kind of made up for my wedges being not that good. We changed my putting stroke like two days ago, so (Friday) night I was just putting the whole time. I didn’t go to the football game because I had to work on it.”
Ellie Beavins and Wilkison added scores of 84 and 89 for Franklin, which was without junior Carly Woodward due to an injury (freshman Morgan Sandrock filled in).
Unlike Parramore, Fosnot stumbled a bit out of the gate, playing the first three holes at four over par. She rallied, however, with a hot stretch of three consecutive birdies on holes six through eight, and she was still at +1 through 13 holes. After a couple of hiccups coming down the stretch, the junior tapped in for birdie on the 18th to finish her round in style.
“The first few holes, it was like me getting warmed up and my putting was a little bit of a struggle,” Fosnot said. “And then all of a sudden it started clicking; my iron shots were going better, and I was actually able to make putts, which is where I got on my birdie streak.”
Maddie Heineman contributed an 80 for the Trojans, followed by Hope Davis (87) and Lauren Pagel (88).
Roncalli’s Kathleen Ameis, competing as an individual, finished with an 89.
Though the regional field promises to be almost just as tough a year from now, both Center Grove and Franklin feel good about their prospects. The Grizzly Cubs will have their top four players plus Sandrock returning, while the Trojans will bring back Fosnot, Pagel and Lanie DeHaven and augment with a host of talented young players.
“They played better this year than they did last year, and I think they’re building confidence along the way,” Kacarab said of his team. “We don’t see this as a setback. They might be disappointed that we didn’t advance as a team, but today was a step forward.”
“We’ll be back,” Center Grove coach Cale Hoover added. “We’ll get back to work. The team put in tremendous work last offseason. I know that they’ll do the same again, and we’ll keep coming.”