BNL’s lone senior fires 36
as Stars post pair of wins
on back nine of Otis Park
By Justin Sokeland
High school golf is a team sport, but this day, this final walk of the hilly back nine at Otis Park, was about the one individual who represents all that is good about the game.
Bailee Gilmore, the lone senior, carded a 1-over 36 as the Stars posted a team total of 162 for wide-margin wins over Springs Valley (206) and Brownstown (210) on Thursday afternoon.
Four years have melted away since a raw left-hander with virtually no golf background picked up a club and decided she was going to learn, to conquer a game that humbles most, to boldly go where few have gone – from novice to champion.
Along the way, she became a role model for her teammates, a group of sophomores with talent but much to learn. If they can duplicate Gilmore’s resolve, determination and desire to improve, they will evolve into a special group.
“I’m hoping she has rubbed off,” BNL coach Aaron Sanders said. “They just don’t quite have the grit yet that a senior would have. But I think they’ve learned a great deal from Bailee.
“She did it the right way. She worked hard, she got the right lessons, she just has the kind of attitude that it was going to be her thing. That’s the way she is on the golf course, she refuses to do wrong things out there. She kind of refuses to make bogeys a lot of times.”
She made a few, but this round was a return to normal. Her performances last week, acceptable to most, were far from her par. Big numbers on the scorecard, and a slump right before the postseason, was worrisome. Gilmore beat the skid into submission, grinding away and cranking out shot after shot on the range until whatever was wrong was fixed.
“I wasn’t making solid contact at all, and I couldn’t figure it out,” Gilmore said. “Now I’m making solid contact, which gives me a lot more confidence in hitting shots. If not, I don’t know where it’s going to go.”
One thing is certain: when Gilmore hits it solid, it’s going a long way. She hammered a mammoth tee shot on the par-5 17th and birdied that, she crushed a tee shot to the slope behind the green on the 12th hole and birdied that. Her bogeys were recorded on holes 10, 11 and 13.
“It was a lot better than what it has been,” she said.
She played without the emotional baggage of a typical Senior Day. BNL will host the IHSAA sectional on Saturday, and that will be her true farewell on the home course. That’s when the finality of her journey will hit her.
“It doesn’t bother me a whole lot,” she said. “It’s not like a whole lot is going to change. And it hasn’t hit me yet. I feel like it’s gone pretty fast. Then again, I feel like I’ve been here for a while.”
Her teammates have two more years. Taylor Norman carded a 41 (despite an 8 on the 11th hole) and Carly Stigall had a 41 that featured a birdie on the 16th. Ashlyn Eagan completed the BNL scoring with a 44.
BNL, the defending sectional champion, will tee off in the final pairings in the sectional. Action on the first tee will begin at 8 a.m.
BNL 162, Springs Valley 206, Brownstown 210
BNL – Bailee Gilmore 36, Taylor Norman 41, Carly Stigall 41, Ashlyn Eagan 44, Taylor Chase 49
Springs Valley – Keisha Bennett 45, Bethany Cranfield 55, Myranda Burton 53, Emma McCormick 53, Joanna Royer 65
Brownstown – Emma Zabor 49, Regan Campbell 54, Shelby Stuckwisch 55, Bre Bottorff 62, Kacee Collins 52
Salem – Loralee Potter 48