DAYTON — Sarah Willis of Eaton and Makenna Jones of National Trail placed first and third respectively in the Girls Southwestern District Golf Tournament on Wednesday, Oct. 5, earning both a trip to the OHSAA Division II State tournament.
The state match will take place Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14-15 at the Ohio State University Golf Course.
Willis was district medalist with a 74 in the 18-hole event. Jones finished the event tied for second with Sammi Blackburn of Monroe, but lost the playoff to take third. Only the top three individuals who were not members of the top three teams qualified to participate in the state finals. The top three teams were Versailles (366), Carroll (373) and Chaminade-Julienne (373).
“I was really happy with how well I finished in the district tournament,” Willis said. “I like how I recovered on the back nine. I scored a 40 on the front nine, but finished with a 34 on the back nine so I was really excited. Makenna and I have become friends, even though we didn’t compete in the same group. Her and I talk a lot, mostly waiting on the brackets and who’s going to what hotels this weekend.”
“This is my return to state after going my freshman year,” Willis added. “I’m much more driven than I was before — I really wanted to come out to state knowing everything I could to win this time.”
Willis has gotten used to playing with the Eaton boys team.
“The distances playing with the girls is much shorter than playing with the boys,” she said. “That demands a lot of adjustments from what I am used to in competing with boys.”
How is it different?
“Girls like to talk with you a lot more than with the boys,” Willis said. “It’s a lot more fun than with the boys. The guys on my team will come watch me, along with my family and family’s friends. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch them while they are watching me play.”
Jones is a freshman who will make her first trip to the state tournament representing the Lady Blazers.
“I tied for second at districts, and ended up placing third, but I’m going to state either way so I’m just so excited,” Jones said. “I started off a little rough because I was nervous, definitely not like I wanted to. I began on the back nine first and only made a 41, but then I settled down and finished really strong.”
“My parents told me that whatever happens, happens,” Jones added. “But everyone was nervous.”
Going to state is going to be a new experience for Jones.
“Sarah and I talked a bit, but I really don’t know what to expect from state,” she said. “She and I talked a lot about sectionals and districts. I’m really pumped about state. To make it to state as a freshman is an honor. I know there’s going to be an extra large group of people coming to watch me from school, so that’s really nice of everyone.”
The OHSAA tournament will begin with tee times at 9 a.m. Willis is set to tee off at 10:50 a.m. on the Gray Course in the front nine, while Jones will begin at 10:40 a.m. on the back nine. Tickets are $9 per day. Information on the event can be found at OSHAA.org/fan guide.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH