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Anna Simpson just wants her girls to have fun this weekend.
Simpson, the Shelby County girls’ golf coach, said she believes that the Rockets play their best when they are enjoying themselves on the course, and Simpson certainly wants that this weekend at the KHSAA Championships at Bowling Green.
“We just have to stay loose and have fun,” Simpson said. “Because when they do that, that’s when they play their best.”
Shelby County begins play at 1:15 p.m. EDT today in the 2-day, 36-hole tournament at Bowling Green Country Club.
“I think that’s probably the most important thing,” senior Jordan Webb said. “That’s what we did at region, and it worked out good.”
Indeed, the Rockets had fun last week and won the Region 5 Tournament at the Henry County Country Club. Thanks to Webb’s par putt on the 18th hole, they edged 4-time reigning region champ Sacred Heart by one stroke (307-308).
The Rockets, the 2-time-defending state champ Valkyries, Calloway County and Henry Clay are the favorites this weekend. Calloway had the lowest state-qualifying score, winning Region 1 with 301, and Shelby County and Sacred Heart had the second and third low scores, respectively. Henry Clay carded 309 in winning Region 7.
“Are we going to have to play our best for two days [to win]? Yes,” Simpson said. “Because Sacred Heart is going to bring it. Calloway is going to bring it. Henry Clay is going to bring it…Whoever plays the best two days of golf is going to win it.”
The Rockets, who finished fifth at state last year, are paired in today’s first round with the Valkyries and the Lakers, who were second last year.
Webb, who finished 13th individually last fall, is paired with last year’s state champion, Calloway junior Anna Hack, and Sacred Heart junior Maddie Hamilton, who tied for third last year.
The Valkyries and Rockets, the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the Kentucky Golf Coaches Association midseason poll, have played with and against each other in seven invitationals as well as the regional.
“I think who we’re playing with is going to keep us grounded,” said junior Madison Thomas, Shelby County’s No. 2 player, who will tee off in the threesome 9 minutes before Webb’s.
Two other things that should help the Rockets, according to Simpson, are the facts that they’ve had success this season both at the Bowling Green Country Club and against Sacred Heart.
They won the Women’s Bowling Green Invitational Tournament in early September on a course that has traditionally given them problems, especially at State.
“Winning Bowling Green was huge,” Simpson said, “even though they’re going to be playing it a lot longer this week. But all that will be is different club selection.”
One of the teams Shelby County beat in the WBGIT was Sacred Heart, which has been a nemesis in the Rockets’ collective sides the past few years. This season, however, Shelby County beat the Valkyries twice in invitationals and again at the regional.
“We haven’t been little sister all year, and that builds confidence,” Simpson said.
The Rockets are both confident and cautious. At Tuesday night’s pep rally at Mike Casey Gymnasium the five players who this weekend will represent Shelby – Webb, Thomas, sophomore Tiffany Grasch and freshmen Lilly Young and Jennifer Fuqua – were decked out in camouflage t-shirts that read: “In The Hunt.”
Shelby County, meanwhile, is aiming for its first team state championship in 23 years (since the boys’ cross-country team captured the Class AAA state title in 1990).
“We hope we can hang a banner, but whatever happens, we'll know we did our best,” Webb told those at the pep rally.
Added Simpson: “I think they’re ready, as long as they can stay loose and have fun.”