Girard qualified its girls golf team in the Class 4A state tournament for the third straight year and won its first regional title since 2006 on its home course Monday.
“It was great,” Girard head coach Steve Curran said on Tuesday. “We were hoping to win it last year but we didn’t. We felt like we had a chance to win it the last couple years but just didn’t. It had been a while since we had (2006) and it felt great for the girls, especially on our home course.”
Timbrelee McNair, a junior, won her second consecutive regional title and fellow junior Carly Heatherly finished second, placing Girard ahead of runner-up Labette County and third place Chanute. Ashley Johnson (11th), Ashley Horton (12th) and Trinadie Puckett (13rd) helped Girard (419) finish 44 shots ahead of Labette County (463) and 46 ahead of Chanute (465).
“We’ve played well at the end of the season,” Curran said. “At Regionals, if you look at our score (419), that’s higher than what we had been shooting but everybody shot higher because of the weather conditions and the way the course was playing. We’re going to peak at the right time of the season and do well at state.”
McNair won her eighth straight individual title — Caney Valley, Girard, Chanute, Galena, Parsons, Crestwood, Garnett and Regionals — since a fourth-place finish in the season-opening Joplin Invitational.
She established a school record for lowest 18-hole score (74) on her home course and then her next time out in a 18-hole tournament, she carded a new school record 72 at Crestwood Country Club, disintegrating her old record. At the previous tournament, she broke her own school record lowest 9-hole score with a 36 at Parsons.
Curran made a prediction earlier this season about McNair — which almost came true on the day he made the prediction at the Girard Invitational.
“Timbrelee’s real consistent,” Curran said. “She still hasn’t shot her best scores yet. I think she’ll pop out an even-par round at some point.”
McNair finished even-par at both Parsons and Crestwood. Low scores like those have McNair on the verge of breaking her own school record for best season average — currently at 78.4 her junior year, McNair set her previous standard at 83.6 her sophomore year, improved from 85.8 her freshman year.
With records dating back to 1986, this year makes 16 state tournament appearances for Girard: 1986, 1988-1991, 1995-1996, 1999-2001, 2004-2006, 2010-2012.
“The Girard program has the longest-running girls program in the area,” Curran said. “I believe it started back in the mid-’70s and it’s been continuing for all those years. Over the last several years, we’ve had good numbers continue to come out and play. I don’t know why but we always seem to have good numbers come out and I’ve always made it the main goal to teach the girls how to play the game. If we’re competitive, that’s great. We’ve had competitive teams but the main thing is that I want to teach the girls how to play golf.”
Page 2 of 2 - Beatriz DeOlano won a Class 4-1A state title in 2000, Michelle Grassie finished second in 1986, Dawn Bever placed fourth in 1988, Kari Bennett took fifth in 1991 and third in 1992, Rachel Leritz took sixth in 1995, Ashley Curran placed sixth in 2006 and McNair took fourth last year as Girard placed fifth as a team. Girard finished third as a team in 1988, 2000 and 2005.
Girard tees off Monday at the Hesston Golf Park in Hesston. Curran said that a couple players will head out Saturday for Hesston and the entire team will go through a practice round or two Sunday. Curran added that he’s played Hesston once himself, recalling doglegs, an open front side and a back side with character.
“We have to manage the course,” Curran said. “I don’t think any of these girls have played on this course before. You have to be able to adjust.”
Curran added that sometimes it’s good not knowing every single nook and cranny of a golf course.