INDEPENDENCE — The Liberty girls golf team is back in the fold as a state team qualifier after finishing second at the Class 2 Sectional 4 tournament on Monday, Oct. 14, at the par-72 WinterStone Golf Course.
Meanwhile, Liberty North finished in a tie for third but qualified individual runner-up Averi Mickelson and Emmy Braden, and Kearney’s Ellyssa Gallinger is also moving on to the MSHSAA state tournament, which is played on Monday, Oct. 21 and Tuesday, Oct. 22 at Silo Ridge Golf Course in Bolivar.
The Blue Jays carded a team total of 379 to beat out Liberty North for the second team qualifying spot. The Eagles shot a 387, while Notre Dame de Sion ran away with the title with a 325.
Abby Howard shot an 83 to finish fourth overall to lead Liberty, followed by Hope Peck and Jamie Phelan’s 97s, Jenna Phelan’s 102 and Isabella Peregrine’s 104.
“Abby played solid,” Liberty coach Jason Carr said. “She left some strokes out on the course, but she was pleased as well as we were as a coaching staff. It really came down to the other four girls for gutting it out and not packing it in when it very easily could’ve gotten out of hand.
“A lot of those teams that we played against during the season we were undefeated against so going into it, it looked good on paper,” Carr said. “When I learned we took a 10 on a hole and a 13 on a hole and a couple nines, and that was pretty early, it was pretty stressful. And then you start to hear that they came back and fought through it, then you’re encouraged and waiting to see if we’d beat St. Teresa’s.”
And the Blue Jays did just that, beating STA and Liberty North by eight strokes.
“It was a very stressful day but it turned out to be a great day,” Carr added.
Mickelson and Braden carded season-bests to lead the Eagles.
Mickelson shot a 75, one shot behind sectional champion Megan Propeck of Sion, and Braden had a 94.
“When you can show up and do that at sectionals that’s really exciting,” Liberty North coach Jeff Braden said. “That’s what you’re trying to do as you prepare for that one big day.”
Mickelson bested local rival Howard by eight shots in an ongoing battle between the senior players. Howard beat Mickelson out for the district title a week prior.
“She was not happy with her performance at districts,” coach Braden said of Mickelson. “She had a few weeks that she struggled a little, but I knew that what she did (Monday) was what she’s capable of doing. It was a big relief for her.”
Coach Braden was not surprised to see his daughter, Emmy, advance to state as a freshman. In fact, he said he wouldn’t have been surprised if his other daughter, Kate, Emmy’s twin, joined the party.
“I knew either of them could go out and do it,” coach Braden said. “Emmy had an exceptional day. She just found her stride and just never let up. I knew she was capable of doing it, but to show up and do it at sectionals; that’s a big deal..”
Kate Braden finished third for the Eagles, totaling a 107. Kaitlyn Lafferty and Olivia Hellerich rounded out Liberty North’s scoring with a 111 and a 112, respectively.
Gallinger fired a 93 to finish in 12th and earn her first ever spot in the state tournament. It was a six-stroke improvement from Gallinger’s sectional performance last season.
Makenzi Kutch also competed for the Bulldogs at sectionals, shooting a 111 to tie for 41st place.
Gallinger became the first Bulldog to make state since Anna Zech went in 2016.
Mahlee Wohlford of Smithville finished two strokes shy of moving on.
Wohlford turned in a 100, tying two other golfers. Harrison Clemmons of Lee’s Summit North was the last to make the cut with a 98.
Brianna Lewis was the other Smithville representative, turning in a 113 for 44th place.
In Smithville’s first season competing in Class 2, Wohlford is the furthest to advance for the Warriors in the classification’s postseason action. She placed 35th at Class 1 state last year.