By Kyle Shaner
VERSAILLES — Versailles hopes to finish its season strong this weekend as the Lady Tigers make their third trip to the state golf tournament in the past four years.
Senior Maddie Covault is the lone Versailles golfer on this year’s team who has experience from either trip to state in 2012 or 2013. She’s now more experienced and more confident than she was as a sophomore, she said, and thinks the team can have a stronger performance than in years past.
“Everything was new,” Covault said of her trip to the state tournament in 2013. “We weren’t expecting to place very high in the state so it was more just for the experience. But this year I think we definitely have a chance to show some low numbers.”
In its first trip to state in 2012 Versailles finish 12th out of 12 teams with a score of 788, shooting a 402 on day one and a 386 on day two of the two-day tournament. A year later the Lady Tigers shot a 733 with a 375 on day one and a 358 on day two and finished ninth.
“I think we were all just nervous, and once we settled we actually showed what we were capable of doing,” Covault said of the 2013 team. “So hopefully this year we all just go in strong the first day and can finish great the second.”
Last week the Tigers shot a 372 at PipeStone Golf Club in Miamisburg to finish third in their district tournament and earn a spot at the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II state tournament. It was an overwhelming feeling to realize they had qualified for Friday and Saturday’s state tournament at The Ohio State University Gray Course in Columbus, sophomore Lauren Durham said.
“We weren’t really expecting this so it’s a pleasant surprise, and we’re all really excited to see what happens and how it turns out,” she said.
Having accomplished their goal of making it to state, there’s not a lot of pressure on the Tigers, junior Lauren Heitkamp said.
“I’m really nervous but yet also excited because we made it this far,” she said. “So it doesn’t really matter how we do because the goal was to get to state, I’d say.”
Coach Joe Harrmann said he knew this year’s squad had the ability to make it to state. The Tigers worked hard all summer and throughout the fall season to get to this point, he said.
“Now it’s been a solid two-and-a-half, three months that they’ve been going,” Harrmann said. “And to see that all come to a climax here at the end where they’ve been able to come together as a team and put together low numbers when it matters, that’s really exciting for them, especially with Maddie being the only senior.”
Harrmann hopes all five of the team’s golfers can shoot their personal bests this weekend in Columbus. For Covault that would be in the low 80s, for Lauren Heitkamp it would be mid-80s, for Durham and sophomore Jorja Pothast it would be mid-90s and for freshman Morgan Heitkamp it would be breaking 100.
“It would be all personal bests, and if you do that then I think you have a pretty good chance of being in the top four, five places,” Harrmann said.
Versailles’ three-state qualifying teams and Minster’s 2002 team are the only Midwest Athletic Conference girls golf squads to make the state tournament. Versailles placing better than ninth would be a new best for the conference.
“I hope we all come together and do well,” Pothast said.
Regardless of how the Tigers do this weekend, it’s an awesome feeling to know they’re one of the top 12 teams in the state and are continuing Versailles’ tradition of excellence, Morgan Heitkamp said.
“I just think we’re excited to represent Versailles at a state level because a small school and it’s a big state,” she said.
The team has received fantastic community support, Harrmann said, and the Tigers are glad that they can add to the tradition of Versailles athletics.
“It’s a very tradition-rich school and community,” he said. “And it always makes a coach proud and it certainly makes the players proud when they can follow along those footsteps and bring some of that tradition to our own program.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316.