The Helias Lady Crusaders are happy to be here.
Now they want to do something with their opportunity.
“We have a one in eight chance,” Helias coach Dan Campbell said as the Lady Crusaders prepared for the State Class 2 tournament which begins this morning at Columbia Country Club.
“We’re going to aim for the stars, see if we can win it.”
The Lady Crusaders finished second in the District 2 tournament last Monday at Heritage Hills in Moberly to qualify for the state. This wouldn’t have happened last season, when the Missouri State High School Activities Association had a rule that only teams that had advanced four or more people could post a team score.
Helias won the District 2 Class 3 tag team title last season, but only three golfers achieved scores that qualified them to advance. So they did not advance as a team.
With the ruler, designed to increase the pace of play at the State Tournament, only two teams advanced in Class 1 last year. Sedalia Sacred Heart won the State title, finishing 100 strokes ahead of Brookfield.
“We kind of thought the change was going to happen, it’s good to bring both teams back from each district,” said Campbell.
But in a concession of knocking out two teams from the four districts, each only gets four golfers instead of their usual five, unless that fifth golfer pulls a score that qualifies them for the district tournament once the scorers qualified teams were eliminated.
“Unfortunately, we lost one of our elders to Grace Cooper, but I think it’s more as it should be,” Campbell said. “But there are less than 90 players in each state tournament, which is more manageable. That should cut down on some of the state’s longest rounds.”
Sophie Hinds, a sophomore, led the Lady Crusaders placing fourth in the district tournament.
“She’s been our number 1 all year, she’s been stable,” Campbell said. “We know what we’re going to get from her pretty much every round, she’s been very consistent.”
Hinds finished 23rd in the State Class 3 tournament last year.
Sophie VanDyne, a junior, finished eighth at the Lady Crusaders district tournament.
“She’s been consistent in the mid-’80s all season,” Campbell said.
VanDyne was a state qualifier last year, tied for 50th.
Molly Case and Raygan Hamilton are Helias’ other two individual qualifiers.
Tied for 22nd at the district tournament as a rookie.
“She wasn’t in any of our camps,” Campbell said. “But the first day of practice I watched her hit balls and she was pretty good.”
Case is a former hockey player and it shows in her momentum, Campbell said.
“She doesn’t have a big following, it’s a slapshot,” he said. “But she’s doing phenomenal as a freshman, she’s gaining a lot of valuable experience.”
Hamilton, a senior, tied for 25th at the district tournament.
“She’s not hitting very far, but her short game is pretty good,” said Campbell. “She makes her 3 and 4 foot putts for pars and bogeys.”
Helias aims to shoot 365-370 in each round of the two-day tournament.
“If we can get around 740, I think we would have a chance, especially for a team trophy,” Campbell said.
Campbell points out that the Lady Crusaders need to eliminate the big numbers.
“Pars and bogeys go a long way in the state tournament,” said Campbell. “Even a double bogey or two won’t necessarily hurt you. You just don’t want to have a lot of big numbers, 9’s and 10’s, those add up pretty quickly.
“We don’t need hero shots, just bring him back to the fairway, get your meds and get on with it.”
This means keeping the pilot in the bag on lots of holes.
“Just hit an iron off the tee, put it in the fairway and take that big number out of the game right off the bat,” said Campbell. “Go into the short grass, not behind the big oak tree. “
Columbia Country Club figures to test players with its large greens.
“We need to eliminate the three-way putt as much as possible,” said Campbell. “With the size of the greens out there, we’re going to have 50 and 60 foot putts, we have to be prepared to delay them as much as possible.”
A pair of St. Louis schools – Visitation Academy and Ursuline Academy – are among the favorites for team honors.
“The attendance is really good, Ursuline is really good,” said Campbell. “We didn’t shoot up close what these two did in the Districts, but we don’t know what kind of courses they were playing.
“Everything can happen.”
Helias played a practice round on the course a few weeks ago and again on Sunday.
“I’m sure there will be nerves when they announce your name and there is a gallery,” Campbell said. “But I’m sure they’ll settle down after a hole or two, it’s just another golf tournament after that.
“We played pretty well, hopefully we are reaching our peak.”
The action will begin at 8:30 am today and Tuesday.
“It will be a great experience for the girls, I hope we can play well,” said Campbell.
The Eldon Lady Mustangs also qualified as a team for the State Class 2 tournament.
Eldon advanced to win the District 3 tournament title two strokes ahead of Nevada.
Three Lady Mustangs finished in the top 10 districts. Autumn Allen and Avery Wells are tied for sixth for the Lady Mustangs, while Hannah Petet is tied for ninth. Danielle Clifton finished 18th to qualify for Eldon.
The Blair Oaks Lady Falcons will have one golfer at the State Class 2 tournament, while Southern Boone and School of the Osage will have two.
Hannah Rackers of Blair Oaks finished three for the final qualifying spot in District 2.
Southern Boone’s Lily Frazier was the District 2 individual champion, while Lila Frazier was fifth for the Lady Eagles. Lily Frazier finished 14th in Class 2 last year, while Lila Frazier tied for 17th.
Hanna Maschhoff finished third for Osage in the District 3 tournament, while Sophia Rivera-Sindlinger tied for ninth. Maschhoff was 10th in Class 2 last year, while Rivera-Sindlinger was 11th.
Three golfers from the area will make the short trip to the Meadow Lake Acres Country Club in New Bloomfield for the State Class 3 tournament.
Jefferson City’s Camryn Swinfard, along with her Capital City teammates Taylor Hovis and Jaycie Lowery, will take part in the two-day tournament which begins at 8:30 am today.
Swinfard just finished tied for 18th place in the State Class 3 tournament last year.
Hovis finished 48th in the Class 3 tournament last year, while Lowery will make his first appearance in the state.
Audrey Rischer of Father Tolton, who shot a course record of 60 at Meadow Lake earlier this season, and Kiser Pannier of Sedalia Smith-Cotton, the defending Class 3 individual state champion, are among those in the mix for individual championship honors.
Silvia Moss and Dixie Moss of New Bloomfield both qualified for the State Class 1 tournament at Silo Ridge Golf and Country Club in Bolivar.
Silvia Moss, who finished fourth in the District 1 tournament, finished fifth in Class 1 last year. Dixie Moss, who finished ninth in Districts, was 22nd in State last year.