LIBERTY — Liberty North freshman Bailey Burkett has had two cracks as postseason tournaments in her young high school golf career.
She has found herself at the top of the leaderboard each time.
After tying with her teammate Averi Mickelson for co-conference champion last week, Burkett walked onto the Outlaw Course at Paradise Pointe Golf Complex with momentum and walked out with a score of 73 and the Class 4 District 4 crown.
“It’s pretty cool coming in as a freshman winning those two pretty big tournaments,” Burkett said.
Burkett was a little surprised that she was able to compete this quickly after her season started with a little bit of a hiccup. She actually entered quarantine for two weeks prior to the season starting as a precaution after she participated in an out-of-state tournament and one of her family members tested positive for COVID-19.
“I wasn’t able to practice,” Burkett said. “The first couple tournaments weren’t great. I wasn’t really thinking about the postseason right then.”
Now Burkett is part of the first Eagles team in school history to qualify for state as Kate and Emmy Braden joined Burkett and Mickelson in the top 12 to advance.
Mickelson finished tied for fourth with an 83. The Braden twins tied with each other for 12 as both shot a 94. Liberty North finished second at the tournament with 344, behind only Rockbridge’s 331.
Burkett is the second district champion in Eagles history after Mickelson did the same her freshman year. The Eagles’ top two golfers have been friends and competitors since they were in elementary school. Burkett said that it’s been really fun having Mickelson there as a teammate who pushes her on the course.
“When I’m playing I’m not really thinking about it, but I think about it when I set goals before that,” Burkett said.
In previous years, Liberty North would be heading to sectionals to earn a state bid, but this is the first year the Missouri State High School Activities Association eliminated the two-tournament qualification process for girls golf and increased the number of classes from two to four.
Two Blue Jays girl golfers left Paradise Pointe with a state bid. Jamie Phelan finished tied for sixth with a score of 86 while Isabella Peregrine shot a 97. Liberty finished third as a team with a score of 388.
Liberty had three golfers just miss the cut as Kelly Ryan was one shot behind the last state qualifiers with a 101. Libby Hearst finished with a 104 and Grace Wratchford finished with a 105.
Blue Jays coach Jason Carr described his team’s performance as the ultimate “hang in there and keep fighting day.” He said he was proud of Phelan and Peregrine while he was heartbroken for the girls who missed the cut.
“They never gave up, followed our blueprint but came up just short,” Carr said.
The state qualifiers for both teams will compete in the Class 4 state tournament on Oct. 19-20 at Dalhousie Golf Club in Cape Girardeau.