Gilmore, Stars to take
their shots at qualifying
for the IHSAA state final
By Justin Sokeland
The mission is not impossible, for Bedford North Lawrence has proven it is capable of posting the necessary numbers to challenge the state’s elite teams. There is no question it will be difficult, but then nothing worthwhile was really ever easy.
The Stars will compete in the IHSAA regional at Country Oaks on Saturday, and the goal is simple: finish among the top three teams in a loaded field of 18 and advance to the state championship for the first time since 1985.
Winning the title might be beyond everyone’s reach, if two-time defending champion Evansville North duplicates its performance from the sectional. No.2 North shot a state-record 290 to win its first stage of the state tournament series. In comparison, BNL won its own sectional at Otis Park with 347.
That score will not be good enough. If history at Country Oaks is any indication, the necessary score to qualify will be around 325, which means BNL must play its best. That can be done. Earlier this season, the Stars shot a school-record 160 on the front nine at Country Oaks during a nine-hole match. Duplicate that, repeat it on the back nine, and the Stars should be on their way to Prairie View for the state finals on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
“That,” BNL coach Aaron Sanders said, “would be ideal. The goal is to advance. We’ve got to have a really good day, and maybe a little bit of help from some of the other teams, too.”
In addition to North, more outstanding teams will be firing at their target score, including No.18 Evansville Memorial, Vincennes Rivet (which shot 312 to win its sectional) and Evansville Mater Dei (which carded 326 and finished third at Fendrich).
BNL has shown flashes of potential to reach that level, winning early-season invitationals and the Hoosier Hills Conference title. The last few rounds have not produced those kind of results, like the Stars are waiting for the perfect moment to explode. That moment would be on Saturday.
“Other than that earlier round (at Country Oaks), we haven’t played to our potential yet,” Sanders said. “They’ve come a long way, and I expect a lot out of them. They expect a lot out of themselves. They’ve all improved so much from a year ago. They’re a lot better players. They expect to go down there and not have the jitters, just get things done.”
Last season, with two juniors and three freshmen, BNL finished 9th in the regional. Four of those five, led by senior Bailee Gilmore, are back. Gilmore, one of the top players in the state, could also be among the contenders for medalist honors and for an individual spot in the state finals. The top three who are not on qualifying teams will also advance.
“I’m excited,” said Gilmore, who is putting the team goal above her own aspirations, although they are certainly connected. “It’s my last year, and that puts a little more on it. I’m excited to have the chance. I’m just trying to stay calm and do what I normally do.”
“If she goes out and has a normal round, she’ll be just fine,” Sanders said.
Floyd Central (the sectional champion at Corydon), New Albany and Seymour will also compete.
BNL, featuring the fivesome of Gilmore, Taylor Norman, Carly Stigall, Ashlyn Eagan and Taylor Chase, is set to tee off between 10:10 and 10:50 a.m.
Saturday at Country Oaks
Teams: Pike Central, Brownstown, Bloomington North, Bloomington South, Vincennes Lincoln, Seymour, Floyd Central, Jasper, Evansville North, Vincennes Rivet, Bedford NL, Martinsville, New Albany, South Spencer, Evansville Mater Dei, North Harrison, Gibson Southern, Evansville Memorial
Advancing: The top three teams, plus the top three individuals who are not members of qualifying teams, will move on the state finals at Prairie View on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1
Defending champion: Evansville North