BNL, despite higher scores,
wins fourth consecutive
sectional title at Otis Park
By Justin Sokeland
They smiled, they posed for championship pictures, they took home every ribbon and trophy. Yet Bedford North Lawrence might have been the most dissatisfied sectional winner in school history.
The Stars cruised unchallenged to their fourth straight IHSAA sectional crown on their home course on Saturday afternoon, posting a whopping 68-stroke margin of victory in the 7-team field. Bailee Gilmore won her second straight medalist title, and BNL had the top three scores in the field.
How dominant were they? The rest of the teams and individuals could have combined their four best scores and would have still lost by 32 shots. BNL’s only competition was with itself.
And from that standpoint, BNL’s team score of 347 was not pleasing. Bailee Gilmore’s winning score of 81 was unusually high. BNL had more displays of frustration – slammed clubs, open-hand smacks on the thigh – than birdies. The Stars are chasing a state finals ticket, and that score won’t come close to qualifying in next week’s loaded regional at Country Oaks. And they know that.
“I wish we could have played better today,” BNL coach Aaron Sanders said. “Everybody had a big number. Bailee did some things she normally doesn’t do. I think we expected to play better. I certainly expected it. Nobody really had a good round, other than Taylor Chase. Maybe they’re saving it for next week.”
Gilmore was cruising, even in the early-round rain that was a constant annoyance. She chipped in for eagle on the par-5 sixth hole and was walking to the ninth tee at even par when tournament officials halted play because of standing water on multiple greens.
An hour later, without any warm-up time, with a tight back and rigid muscles, Gilmore ripped her first two tee shots on the short ninth off the clubhouse roof. So she played the last 10 holes in 9-over and left with a sour mood following her final round on the home course.
“I really don’t think I deserved to win. I guess I did,” Gilmore said. “The rain really doesn’t bother me, but I couldn’t get back in the groove.”
Taylor Norman finished second overall with an 85, while Taylor Chase – perhaps the only completely happy player on the winning team – was third with an 89. “I just focused on wanting to do my best, to get my best score,” Chase said. Carly Stigall completed BNL’s scoring with a 92.
BNL still had plenty to celebrate. The Stars won their 11th sectional and won their fourth straight for the first time in program history. If nothing else, that’s something to smile about.
“That’s four in a row, and that’s kind of a big deal for Bailee,” Sanders said. “She’s showed a lot of leadership over the last couple of years.”
Seymour finished second in the team competition with 415, while Brownstown claimed the third regional spot with 418. Springs Valley freshman Keisha Bennett (90), Salem’s Loralee Potter (96) and Orleans’ Brooklyn Cromwell (97) qualified as the top three individuals who were not members of advancing teams.
BNL will join an elite field for the regional on Sept. 24, with only three of the 18 teams in the second stage of the state tournament moving on to the state finals at Prairie View on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
“We have all week to practice,” Gilmore said. “I’ll figure out how to play.”