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Expectations frame practically everything in high school sports.
Few teams will reflect that truth more than the Anderson County girls' golf team this fall. The Lady Bearcats figure to be good. They expect to have one of the state's best golfers who should make quite a showing at the state meet. But they also know it will be extremely difficult for all of them to make the season's final tournament.
“We finished fifth in the region last year,” says Anderson coach Todd Hyatt. “It's very tough. You have to be playing your best and it is one day.”
The top two teams and the top four individuals not on those teams advance to the girls' state tournament, which will be held at Bowling Green Country Club.
But the Lady Bearcats could be a team to keep an eye on. While only eight girls are out for the team, Hyatt thinks there is some potential.
“I think all of the girls have played a little more (in the off-season),” he says. “Some of the kids have taken (private) lessons since last season.”
Anderson lost three players to graduation. Anna-Marie Hyatt will be walking the links at Campbellsville University this fall, while Kimmy Rutherford and Emily Lancaster also graduated.
However, Kaitlyn Riley returns for her fourth shot at an individual state title.
A three-time state qualifier, Riley looks to lead Anderson against a regular-season schedule that includes nine tournaments, starting with the season-opener Saturday at Weissinger Hills in Shelbyville.
“I want to finish in the Top 10,” Riley says of her individual goal.
A year ago, Riley just made it to the state, tying West Jessamine's Grace Rose with an 81 for the third and fourth place regional finishes. Rose went on to finish sixth at the state, but Riley came in tied for 28th with a 19-over 82-81 two-day total at Bowling Green Country Club.
While Riley's excellence is almost considered a given for the Lady Bearcats, for the team to advance, seniors Kelley Harlan and Hayley Elder, along with sophomore Christina Montgomery, will be counted upon to lower their scores from the realm of the good to the very good this year.
“To get to the state, we will probably need to shoot in the 330-335 range as a team,” Hyatt says. A year ago, Boyle County made the state as the second team from Region 6, shooting a 334 at the regional tournament, held at Gibson Bay in Richmond. This year's meet will be at Danville Country Club.
“Last year, 336 was the best score we had.”
Junior McKenna Lewis also returns to the varsity while freshman Cheyenne Searcy and eight-graders Kallie Jo Smith and Amy Kate Smith round out the team. “They all have potential to be good,” Hyatt says. “They just have to play.”
Riley expects to shoot in the 70s for 18-hole rounds, so Hyatt feels the key to Anderson's success will be the other four players who tee off for the varsity on any given day.
“I would like to see our two through five players consistently have scores in the 80s,” Hyatt says.
Even that might not be enough for the team to make the state, but the Lady Bearcats should be one of those teams that is worth watching and could have a chance at the program's first ever state berth.
A year ago, Anderson was fifth out of 23 teams at the regional tournament, but were well behind regional champ Henry Clay and runner-up Boyle County. This year, Anderson should do very well in dual meets, but Hyatt scheduled the large number of tournaments just to get his team ready for the regional atmosphere.
“Our region is really tough,” Hyatt says. “Kaitlyn made it (to the state) as an individual with an 81 last year, but some of the other regions, you had kids making it with scores in the 90s. It's tough.”
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