Playing on its home course on Monday, the Manhattan High girls’ golf team hoped to close the gap on rival Washburn Rural at the Manhattan Invitational.
While Rural still won at the Manhattan Country Club, finishing the day 11 strokes ahead of the Indians with a 350, Manhattan can take comfort knowing they’ll get another shot, likely in each of the next two weeks with regional and state competition coming right up.
Manhattan’s Kylie McCarthy shot an 83 to take second place overall behind Topeka High’s Rachel Stous, who shot an 82. Kelsey McCarthy finished in fourth place with an 85, and Hannah Devane also medaled with a 94 in 10th place. Anna Jackson shot a 99 to take 14th place, with Cassidy Harper shooting a 107 and Amy Levin finishing with a 115.
Manhattan head coach Chris George said the Indians didn’t putt well enough to keep up with the Junior Blues.
“Manhattan Country Club’s got fast greens,” George said. “We know that - probably every team knows that. We just didn’t putt well enough to win today. Chipping and putting on these greens is a challenge, and we’ve practiced on it, it just didn’t happen today.”
While the team finished well ahead of third-place Shawnee Heights, the Indians hoped to edge Rural using home-course advantage.
“It’s always disappointing not to win,” George said. “But you have to give Washburn Rural credit. They’re probably one of the top two or three teams in the state. They’re awfully good and they have a lot of depth. A lot of times they have anywhere from 1-4 be their top scorer.
“For us, it’s always been Kylie and we’re scrambling to get that fourth score. Our team kind of goes as that goes. Not to put a lot of pressure on our bottom three, just the simple math, that’s what it boils down to.”
Kylie McCarthy was pleased with her round, but knows she could have done better.
“I was happy, but of course you can always do better,” Kylie said. “Everyone wants to get first. My round — on the back I had two pars and the rest were bogeys, and most of those could have been pars.”
Playing on a tough course like MCC, Kylie said knowing where to go with the ball and which parts of each hole to avoid are luxuries.
“When we practice up here, we normally don’t play the course,” she said. “But most of us have played a few times and know where to aim the ball or hit or which way the greens slope and how fast they are.”
For Kelsey McCarthy, continuing to play with renewed confidence has put her back in the medalist hunt the past couple weeks.
“I feel like I did really well, today,” Kelsey said. “I could have done a lot better, I had a lot of bogeys and could have gotten more pars. I feel like I played really well, considering in the past I’ve played really bad here.
“I think I can do a lot better at regionals and state, and I feel confident going into that.”
Kelsey said she knows the team let one get away against their rival.
“I feel good that we got second behind Washburn, but we were only 11 strokes off,” she said. “I’m sure each of us can think of at least five that we could have come back with. But we did really well today.”
Manhattan travels to Wichita’s L.W. Clapp Golf Course for the start of postseason golf on Monday. The Indians will get another shot at Rural, and are a safe bet to make it through to state in a regional that features Derby, Wichita Southeast, Topeka High, and the two Lawrence schools, none of which have especially strong teams. The top three teams from the Wichita Regional move on to the state meet in Garden City the following week.