For much of the season, Kelsey McCarthy hasn’t played up to her capabilities for the Manhattan High girls’ golf team.
On Monday in Topeka, that all changed.
With renewed confidence, the junior shot an 84 to finish in fifth place at the Centennial League meet at Cypress Ridge Golf Course, while helping her team to a second-place finish.
McCarthy said her confidence boost came from some extra practice out on the course over the weekend.
“I was mainly practicing my chipping, because my chipping hasn’t gone as well lately,” she said. “But I also worked on the range and working out my swing, because I’d been losing a little bit of distance. So I worked on all that and felt really confident in myself.”
Manhattan took second with a 352 team score, finishing behind first-place Washburn Rural by 17 strokes. Hayden finished in third with a 358.
Individually, Kylie McCarthy was the top finisher for the Indians, taking third overall with an 82. Hannah Devane shot a 91 to take 13th place, while Anna Jackson took 19th place with a 95 to give the Indians four medalists. Cassidy Harper shot a 102 and Amy Levin shot a 114 to round out Manhattan’s scores.
“I knew it would be close and we’d have to be at our best to beat Washburn Rural, but we still played solid and everybody played at least their average, or better,” Manhattan coach Chris George said. “Kelsey was probably the bright spot of the day. She got fifth and had her lowest score of the year with an 84. It’s nice to see her improve.”
George said the course was in good shape, but pin placement on the greens proved difficult for everyone.
“The pin placements were real tricky,” he said. “There were lots of girls having trouble making two-putts, and we were in that boat too. They were just real difficult today, but they were the same for everybody — that’s not an excuse for us.
“The course is in good shape though, and it was a perfect day.”
While the day didn’t end with an upset of Rural, the Indians know they have another shot in a week at the Manhattan Invitational at the Manhattan Country Club.
“We were up there with Washburn — I think we could get closer with them and eventually beat them,” Kylie McCarthy said. “We’d love to do that next week at our home meet. I think last year was the first time their varsity played at our Country Club, so they don’t have as much experience with where to hit the ball, and we do since we practice up there.”
Before then, Manhattan has two tournaments, including a quick turnaround with a make-up tournament at Alvamar in Lawrence today. After a long day in Topeka Monday, the team opted to stay in Lawrence since today’s tournament had an early-morning start.
The team also plays Thursday in Hutchinson, giving them a busy week.
“I think it’s not hard on them as golfers, but it’s a challenge to them as students,” George said. “They’ll miss three days of school this week. We try to maintain their focus on school as well as golf, so that will be the challenge.”
George said between today’s match in Lawrence featuring several eastern Kansas teams and Thursday’s in Hutchinson pulling teams from western Kansas and Wichita, the team will get a first-hand look at most of the teams in the state.
“We get to pretty much see all the teams from the state this week, so that’s good,” he said. “And we have our tournament next Monday and then we have regionals and state. After this week, there’s not too much left of our season.”