By John Tranchina
BARTLESVILLE – After entering the second day of competition in third place, four strokes behind Jenks, Edmond North shot an impressive 331 on Thursday to claim the Class 6A girls state championship at Hillcrest Country Club.
The big day, which saw all five Huskies golfers shoot a 175 or lower, gave them a total score of 668, a full 21 points ahead of their nearest competitor. It’s Edmond North’s first state title since 2003 and eighth overall.
“I’m really excited for these girls. I knew that they had it in them, and I was really excited to see them play well today and go get it,” said Huskies coach Brock Vancleave. “Really, the fact that all the girls were playing well, they were cheering each other on, it really made them feel better that they knew they could count on each other.”
Following a rain delay that pushed back the start of the proceedings about two and a half hours, Edmond North leader Emily Jackson struggled on the first few holes, but recovered to shoot a 79. That gave her a tournament total of 161, good for sixth individually.
“It’s just so unbelievable,” Jackson said. “I was kind of scared on the front nine, I was not doing very well, and then on the back nine, I somehow pulled it together. My coach on the seventh hole, on the tee box, he just calmed my nerves and I just got to play my game the way I know how to play it. I was just hoping we would win, I wanted to win my last year of high school. And we did!”
Jenks, which entered the day leading at 333, shot a 356 on Thursday and wound up tied with Bixby at 689, so a playoff was required to determine the state runner-up. All five golfers on each team re-played the first hole, and with the four best scores counting, the Trojans prevailed 20-21. With the pressure on and a lot of people watching, it came down to the Spartans missing a couple of close putts, while Jenks’ Meg Medders shot a par-4 and Lauren Behnken had a one-over five.
“Once again, it just came down to the mind, the mental part of your golf game, who had the little stronger mental game, because this is a lot of pressure,” said Jenks coach Vicki Hughes. “And there’s been a lot of pressure all day. You put your clubs up and all of a sudden, you’re told you have to go do a playoff with all five of you, so I think it just came down to the mental part of the golf game today, all 18 holes, plus this playoff.”
Bartlesville, which started out second after a 336 on Wednesday, finished fourth after shooting a collected 694.
The Bruins did have something to celebrate, though, as Faith Hopkins won the individual championship on her home course, shooting a 75 on Thursday to finish with a total score of 146.
“Having it here on my home course, having my family and friends here, all the love, I’m really trying to soak it all in,” said an emotional Hopkins afterwards. “I felt a lot of pressure, not bad pressure, just expectations from people in the community to do it for Bartlesville and get this done. I like that pressure, I tend to thrive under those circumstances, so that worked out pretty well for me.”
Bixby’s Natalie Gough had the day’s top score of 73, but still placed second overall with a 148. Southmoore’s Madison Smith came in third with a 154 (79-75) and Hayden Meiser of Norman placed fourth with a 81-78-159.
Owasso’s Faith Belmear, the 6A East Regional and Frontier Conference champion, was fifth with 160.
“I’m glad I got to play with my friends all these years, and I’m glad, if I have to lose to someone, it would be Faith, because we’re so close,” Gough said, emotional that her high school career had just ended. “But I’m really happy for her.”
Class 6A championship
At Hillcrest Country Club, Bartlesville
1. Edmond North 337-331–668
2. Jenks 333-356–689
3. Bixby 344-345–689
4. Bartlesville 336-358–694
5. Norman 351-360–711
6. Broken Arrow 366-357–723
7. Union 367-379–746
8. Yukon 368-382–750
9. Ed. Memorial 380-394–774
10t. Ed. Deer Creek 390-386–776
10t. Southmoore 390-386–776
12. Owasso 405-408–813
1. Faith Hopkins, Bartlesville;71-75–146
2. Natalie Gough, Bixby;75-73–148
3. Madison Smith, Southmoore;79-75–154
4. Hayden Meiser, Norman;81-78–159
5. Faith Belmear, Owasso;81-79–160
6. Emily Jackson, Edmond North;82-79–161
7. Emma Shelley, Bartlesville;84-78–162
8. Grace Griggs, Edmond North;80-84–164
9. Lauren Behnken, Jenks;82-83–165
10t. Meg Medders, Jenks;82-86–168
10t. Faith Stewart, Ed. Deer Creek;87-81–168