Michael Stainbrook reports:
With Mason’s back-to-back wins in the Division I girls’ golf sectional and district tournaments, the Comets are playing consistently toward Friday’s state meet at the Ohio State University Golf Club. But first-year coach Karen Binzel knows her team has room to shine even brighter.
Mason shot a masterful 312 at the Indian Springs sectional tournament Oct. 1 by posting four of the day’s five lowest scores. Last Thursday, the Comets won the district meet with a team score of 338, but the 26-shot differential tells Binzel that her squad’s best golf is still to be played.
“We definitely didn’t perform to our level at district,” she said. “I know we need to improve our scores pretty significantly going into state. I think the focus is going to be there.”
Binzel watched her team shoot three rounds in the 70s at the sectional tournament, led by senior Tara Liebert’s 2-over-par 74. Only junior Miranda Dubler finished in the 70s at the district meet.
The state tournament is a 36-hole event Friday and Saturday at Ohio State’s Gray Course. The course is longer than many in Southwest Ohio, and its fast greens are troublesome for most prep golfers.
Binzel diagrammed the course in practice Monday and set hole-by-hole goals for her team. Some holes allow for more aggressive approach shots and birdie putts, while salvaging par on others might be a challenge.
Liebert’s strength off the tee might give Mason an edge. Her booming drives can turn short par-4 holes into par 3s, and she regularly reaches par-5 greens in two shots.
“The course is lengthy, but we have an advantage there,” Binzel said. “We just need to get the timing of the greens down.”
Liebert is the only Mason golfer who played on the 2010 state tournament qualifying team. Senior Macy Hubbard, junior Quinn Atkinson, sophomore Morgan Schaffer and Dubler watched from the gallery in 2010, but now they will join Liebert in pursuit of the state crown.
Ursuline also qualified for its sixth state tournament in the last seven seasons. Ursuline had won the last two district titles, but veteran coach Marianne Utz Sahms said her squad is happy with its tournament berth.
“This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for us,” Sahms said, noting three of her top five players were on the reserve team last season. “I don’t think there were a lot of folks that expected us to do well this year.”
The Lions are focusing on the Gray Course’s tricky pin placement as they prepare for their final two rounds of the season. Sahms said the course features a trio of unusually long par 3s that will challenge her golfers. Only junior Abigail Wellens has played in the state tournament last season.
“It’s a fun way to finish the season,” Sahms said. “Our theme for the whole season has been ‘believe,’ believe in ourselves and each other. I think the girls are going up looking forward to playing their best golf of the season and to see where that lands us.”
Centerville finished third at the district meet to grab the final spot in the state tournament field. Senior Mackenzie Laumann of Oak Hills qualified as an individual.