This season will be one the members of the Mexico varsity girls golf team end up remembering for quite some time.
One reason 2017 was so unique was that, after rolling over and through the competition during the regular season, the Lady Bulldogs finish second at Class 1, District 5, with a score of 364. Placing first was Macon with 359.
"I expected our team to have an above average year and our record definitely proves the expectation true. Knowing the players I had coming in, I had a good feeling that we would be competitive with all teams we encountered, especially during our regular season," said coach Lindsey Yancey. "One of our losses was in a tournament where we were missing our number one player due to injury. Our other loss was to a very strong Helias team and also happened to be on the night we set a new school record."
What came next for Mexico were the Class 1, No. 3 sectionals, where once again the team was the runner-up to Macon. Highlights included Emma Chedwick placing seventh at plus-18 and Kylah Gore was third at plus-11.
"In my mind, I knew we had a chance at taking one of the top four spots at the state tournament, but I chose not to make that a focus throughout the season," Yancey said. "Golf is such a mental game, I didn't want that hanging over us but instead made the goal to make it to state as a team. We scratched and clawed our way into state qualification coming through a very challenging Sectional experience. Sectionals is always such a challenge."
The encore to all that accomplishment for the Lady Bulldogs was the two-day state meet, where the girls got off to a good start by ending the first day in fourth place with a score of 374. When the second day was then cancelled because of weather, that left Mexico behind just Notre Dame (Cape Girardeau) with 319, Pembroke Hill at 355 and John Burroughs with a score of 358.
"I had many standouts on my team. In fact, each team member contributed in a significant way throughout the season," Yancey said. "Our lynch pin players this season were Besty Pascoe and Emma Unger. They played as our fourth and fifth, and we used scores from each girl equally. They were many times the score that pushed us into the win column, really proving that this record happens when an entire team works together. They spent a lot of time in the off season working and it showed this year."
Individually for the Lady Bulldogs at the state meet it was Emma Chedwick who stepped up and led the way by carding a team-low 84 to tie for seventh place as an individual with Springfield Catholic's Kayla Pfitzner and Penney's Samantha Cornelius. Lilly Knipfel also grabbed the 18th spot with an 89, Gore shot a 92 to place 22nd and Pascoe came in 66th at 109. Unger posted a 129 to take the 90th spot for Mexico, as well.
Some of the other ingredients to this winning recipe for the Lady Bulldogs featured a senior who shot a career low 36 against Helias and a sophomore who clocked an 80 at districts. Highlights for this duo included both earning All-State accolades.
"Emma Chedwick was a very strong competitor this season, really building on four years of hard work. She was the NCMC champ and was very consistent and provided leadership for the team," Yancey said. "Kylah Gore (Sophomore) was our returning All State athlete and came in with many clutch rounds. She provided a really consistent low score all season, even while she was dealing with a wrist injury. She was a leader on the team and it will be really fun seeing what she does next year.
The final peices to this puzzle were just as key and started with Knipfel, a freshman who carded an 81 at the Westran Tournament during the regular season. Add to that the contributions of JV players like Lizzy Gooch, Rebecca Rothermich and Sarah Kasubke and the path to higher ground for Mexico starts becoming that mcuh more apparent.
"Our varsity team was led by three young ladies who were very consistent. Three players who were dominant in our conference and each claiming medalist honors at multiple events," said Yancey. "Knipfel was a player that I knew had a lot of golf experience. She is an accomplished player, so it was really great getting to see her play first hand. She proved to be a great competitor. As a freshman she earned All Conference and All District honors, which is quite the challenge."
As for what lies ahead, Yancey encourages her players to participate in other sports. Because of her willingness to share athletes, that means this squad won't be back together to train until school is out for the year.
"The team will not have any official offseason work until the summer of 2018, but several of the girls will be working on their own and playing in competitive tournaments throughout the spring and summer," said Yancey. "Playing in the offseason, especially individually, is a true key to success and provides the biggest gains in ability. In my experience, it has only helped my program if one of my players also competed in another sport. Any strength training and endurance training helps."