With three seniors playing and a fourth as an alternate on the roster, the Yorktown Tigers entered the second round of the 2012 IHSAA girls golf State championship with a two-stroke lead over the Carmel Greyhounds. When the Tigers left The Legends in Franklin on Saturday afternoon, the dream had officially been realized with a score of 625 to the Greyhounds' 639.
"To get the State title and that was our goal since we knew we were going to be a good team our sophomore year. We knew we had our chance to do it, and we are so happy we were able to do it."
Despite struggling on the back-nine during Friday's opening round, the Tigers came out like a Ferarri cruising on all cylinders on Saturday. Each player in the round had a signature hole on the front-nine; ranging from the Tigers' number-one in Kennedy Windlan (152) setting the tone with a ten-foot birdie on the opening hole, or number-two in Rachel Johnson (153) knocking a ball within two-feet on the second hole to dip into the red.
"We knew that yesterday was yesterday and that golf is a sport you can't go off of yesterday," said Johnson.
"You just have to take it hole by hole, stroke by stroke, and that's just how I took it to calm my nerves."
But perhaps of all the seniors playing, nobody represented making the most of the opportunity than Tigers' own Ashley Sexton. Normally the fifth player on the varsity roster, Sexton played above her normal expectations and sat at +1 the entire front-nine after bogeying the very first hole. Instead of crumbling under pressure despite knocking one into the water on the ninth hole, Sexton responded with an iron that was mere feet within the cup and a putt that saved par.
"I definitely just kept on telling myself to focus, focus, and that you can do it," said Sexton who finished with a 164 for both days. "Just go ahead and play each hole, and par."
By time the Tigers made it through the ninth hole they already had a double-digit stroke lead on the Greyhounds, and the eventual champions never took the foot off the acceleration. All golfers on the squad parred the thirteenth hole, with Windlan just missing a birdie chip-in by inches, except Sophomore Morgan Clark (166) that birdied the hole.
"These girls are just a great bunch of ladies who played great today," said Tigers Head Coach Brian Hill. "They played great all year, and to pull it out when the pressure is on like that, it isn't easy to always win when you are suppose to win. They did it, and my hats off to them."
Perhaps the signature moment of the back-nine though came from the Senior Clark (158). About 120 yards out from the pin, Clark placed her ball on the green far enough away for an easy two-putt for par. Clark didn't necessarily do anything significant on the hole, but the emotion of waiting so long to capture this dream came flooding out of her once she tapped her ball in.
"It is extremely overwhelming," said Clark. "I told myself that I wasn't going to cry afterwards, I'm not going to cry. But it just hit me on the last putt after the eighteenth green that high school golf is over. And it makes it that much more special to be able to do that and win a State championship with such a great team."
And than once Kelly Windlan tapped in her final putt, the team gathered on the side of the eighteenth hole. No longer were they teammates chasing after a title, they were officially State champions basking in the glory.
"We knew we only had one more shot at it," said Windlan.
"So we gave it our all."
1. Yorktown 319-306-625
2. Carmel 321-318-639