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SHEPHERDSVILLE - The Bullitt East Lady Chargers’ dream of returning to the Kentucky State Golf Tournament came to an abrupt halt on the back-nine at Heritage Hill Golf Course on Tuesday.
Competing in the Region 3 Tournament on their home course, the Lady Chargers were in the pack of teams chasing Central Hardin for the second and final qualifying spot for the state tourney next week in Bowling Green. The red and gold sputtered down the stretch, playing themselves out of contention.
In the end, Bullitt East finished with a 423 total which tied them for fifth place overall with Elizabethtown. Central Hardin won the title for the eighth time in the past nine seasons with a 371 while Marion County was second at 384.
The Central Hardin boys had won the Region 5 title on the same course the day before.
As expected, North Hardin’s Lydia Gumm, one of the two top high school players in the state, easily won the individual title with a one-under par 71. No other girl in the field of 59 players shot better than a 78. The other individual qualifying spots went to players shooting 88 or better.
It was just a long day for the Lady Chargers on their home course. A month earlier, in their own Bluegrass Invitational at Heritage Hill, Bullitt East had fired a 400 and beat many of the top teams in the region except Central Hardin.
“After the first nine we were still competitive,” veteran Bullitt East coach Andy Oder said. “After nine we were in that six team race. But, on the back-9 we had some really big scores on some holes.
“It was penalties, more than strokes,” the coach added. “We hit it out of bounds several times and into some hazards.”
Bullitt East took 23 more strokes on the back-nine than they did on the front side.
In the end, Oder chalked up the high team score to the girls putting too much pressure on themselves to perform well and repeat last season’s magical regional run.
“It’s a senior laden team putting pressure on themselves,” Oder noted. “We’ve been competitive, but it wasn’t there today. It happens in golf, but it isn’t a good time for it to happen.
“On the first tee they were holding their breaths,” the coach added. “Then you could see them let out that big sigh. They all hit pretty good shots off the tee.”
On a team with four seniors among the five players competing on Tuesday, there is no second chance.
“They were pretty emotional,” the coach said. “They were upset. They wanted it. That played a part in it. I know they wanted it.”
The four scores counting towards the team score were all seniors for Bullitt East. Maggie Smith led the way with a 93 while McKenzie Perdew had a 106. Both Emily Mingue and Kendra Grant finished with a 112. The fifth player on Tuesday was sophomore Olivia Pruitt with a 117.
“It will definitely be a different team next season,” Oder said of what will be a new era for the Lady Chargers. “We’ll definitely do some off-season stuff to get the new group wound up. We might pick-up one or two new ones.”
The only other Bullitt County player taking part in the regional was North Bullitt junior Darian Webb who finished at 116. This was her third trip to the regional tournament.
“She’s not happy with that,” North Bullitt coach Janna Johnson said. “She didn’t hit it the way she has the last several weeks. She started the season up in the 60s and over the past several weeks has gotten it down around 50. She had some miss hits and some of it was nerves.”