Herman, Jenks wade to Class 6A state championships
Photo: The Class 6A state champion Jenks Trojans, from left, coach Vicki Hughes, Lilly Stanton, Sophia Lefler, Lisa Herman, Isabella Suttee and Isabella Negley
By John Tranchina
Lisa Herman rebounded from a double bogey-bogey start in a drenching rain to shoot 1-under-par 71 Thursday at MeadowBrook Country Club in south Tulsa to win the Class 6A individual state championship, while helping her Jenks team claim its second straight team title.
The only golfer to shoot under par 72 in either round, Herman shot a 70-71-141 to win the tournament by 10 strokes over runner-up Lucy Darr of Stillwater. Syrah Javed of Norman North finished third with a 76-76-152.
As a team, Jenks shot a 303-311-614 to take the championship, the 16th in school history, by a full 54 strokes over second-place Edmond North, who finished as runners-up for the second year in a row after claiming three straight championships from 2018-21.
Herman, a freshman who won the 6A East Regional last week and set a course record with a 64 in her previous outing at the Frontier Valley Conference championship at Adams GC in Bartlesville, won her eighth individual championship of the season.
“I was just thinking, ‘I can’t let my team down,’ I just wanted to do my best for my team,” Herman said. “It means a lot. It’s a lot of dedication and hard work to get to this point, and I’m just really proud of myself and proud of my team for pulling through in this hard weather.”
Jenks coach Vicki Hughes was confident that Herman would get the job done on the biggest stage of the season.
“I’m very excited, she’s very deserving,” Hughes said of Herman. “The girl works harder than probably anybody that I know, she’s seven-days-a-week golf. She works at her game. I’m tickled to death to have her on our team.”
The Trojans also had two other top-five finishers and four total in the top 10, as Lily Stanton placed fourth with a 75-79-154, Sophia Lefler was fifth at 79-78-157 and Isabella Suttee tied for seventh (79-83-162).
“It feels amazing, I’m so proud of our team, all of our girls, we have such great bonds and I’m so proud of everything that we’ve done,” said Stanton, who finished as state runner-up in each of the two previous seasons. “It was definitely a grind today and I know none of us gave up and that’s why we won. I just tried to stay positive and I finished in the 70s, which was my goal for today. So I’m really proud of us.”
Jenks, which also placed second in 2018 and 2019, has now finished in the top two in four of the past five competitions (Covid wiped out the 2020 tournament). Hughes credits the Trojans’ success to having a deep group of kids even beyond the varsity golfers.
“We’ve got girls on the JV bench, I can’t leave them out because they’re pushing everybody,” Hughes said. “Everybody’s pushing each other to get better and that’s what it’s all about. We have a good team dynamic, there’s no jealousy amongst them. I told the JV girls, ‘Hey, don’t hang your heads, you guys had a great season yourselves.’ We’re just trying to keep it going and going.”
Natalie Purvis was Edmond North’s top golfer, shooting a 80-83-163 to finish tied for ninth, helping the Huskies place second, just two strokes ahead of third-place Edmond Memorial. North has now placed among the top two teams for an amazing six straight seasons. Rylee Roberts, who won the individual state title last season, placed 12th with a 81-83-164.
“I thought our girls played really well, considering the weather and everything,” said Edmond North coach Greg Bloyd. “Jenks was a juggernaut, they were great, and we knew we were going to have to play really, really well and probably have them play not as good as they normally do. But they’re a great team and I’m happy for our girls because it was still a battle. There’s five or six other great teams that were within striking distance. With the weather and everything and battling through that, I’m very proud of our girls and what we’ve been able to accomplish this year.”
Darr, a junior who finished 14th at state last year, is getting used to chasing Herman on the course, having also finished second to her in the 6A East Regional last week.
“It feels pretty good,” she said of her silver medal. “I’m a little disappointed that I came up a little short but I feel like I played really well at the end of the day. I think I’ve only beaten (Herman) once or twice, but she’s one of my good buddies and I’m really happy for her. She played well.”
As everyone mentioned, the rain was a major factor all day for the second round, starting with storms that rolled through the area early and delayed the morning tee times by about an hour. After they got started, there was a steady rain the entire time, with the golfers having to walk through puddles throughout the course and getting soaked to the skin.
“Honestly, it was really hard,” Herman said. “You were just kind of hoping, ‘Okay, I just hope my hands don’t slip, I hope my feet don’t slip.’ I was just trying to say as smooth as possible so I wouldn’t slip and wouldn’t hit an errant shot. It was really difficult, everyone had a tough time out there today.”
“About Hole 13, I was like, ‘Coach, I don’t know if I can do this,’ because I was pretty miserable,” Stanton admitted. “I thought that I had dealt with just about it all after state last year (when rained delayed the final round by over three hours but eventually stopped), but this year, today, was even worse than last year, just the absolute continuous pouring rain, no break at all. Everything was just soaking wet, it was very hard to get your golf ball to a place where it wasn’t in a puddle.”
Hughes, as the host coach, was the one who would have been in charge of possibly cancelling play if the weather got too bad, but she noted that everyone involved wanted to play no matter how bad the rain got, as long as it was safe to do so.
“As long as there’s no lightning,” Hughes said. “I hate it for the girls. At least the top three groups, as long as they played the same holes, you can play to that point, you can always call it. But I asked several players out here – not my players but I asked other teams, ‘What do you think? You guys want to play on?’ And they’re like, ‘yeah, let’s go.’ These girls, man, they’re tough. They’re very resilient, you have to be very resilient to do this in this rain. Your hands get wet, it can interfere with your mind game.”
Darr agreed that the mental part was the toughest, but she prepared herself beforehand.
“In the rain, it’s just all mental and I think if your mental game’s strong, then you’ll perform well in the rain,” Darr said. “Going to bed last night, I knew (it was going to rain), so I was like, ‘You got to prep yourself for this because it’s going to be hard and if you’re just one of the few people that just doesn’t give up, then you’re going to finish in the top 10.’”
Hughes was impressed with how all the girls battled through the conditions to complete the tournament with comparable scores to the day before.
“Playing in the rain like this, it shows the character and the resilience of not just my team but all girls out here in general,” Hughes said. “I mean, it’s hard to do. You got to be tough and I feel like all of these girls, not just the Trojans, but everybody played well. It’s not easy to go out there and play in mud and rain.”