By Brad Morris
COLUMBUS — If the Westfall girls golf team had a calling card this season, it would have to be their consistent play.
And that was certainly the case again on Friday and Saturday at the Division II state tournament.
The Mustangs shot a team score of 363 on Friday and followed it up with a team round of 364 on Saturday to finish the state tournament in seventh with a two-day tally of 727 at The Ohio State University Gray Golf Course.
“Going 363 and 364 on Friday and Saturday was a really cool feeling,” Westfall coach Jonathan Barker said. “Looking at Westfall girls golf history or just state tournament history in general, it seems as though it’s very typical for Saturday’s score to jump up quite a bit, but as they have been all year, the team was a picture of consistency.”
The seventh-place finish is the second highest in program history over their five appearances in the state tournament, only bested when the Mustangs finished third in 2012.
“As far as 36 holes out there this weekend, 54 if you count the practice round, we saw some crazy bounces, a few wild putts, and some great up and downs, but the girls did a great job of remembering that there are no pictures on the scorecard and kept making the shots we needed to make to finish so respectably in a great tournament hosted at Ohio State,” Barker said. “It truly is a very fair test of ability and it’s great to see all the talent we have in our state competing together in one weekend.”
The Mustangs finished their first round on Friday in fifth with a team score of 363.
Emily Cook led the Mustangs with a scorecard of 83 (40-43), Paige Weiss shot 85 (41-44), Maddie Cook turned in an 86 (41-45) and Marianna Packer had 109 (52-57). Alexa Oney also played for the Mustangs and shot 112 (60-52).
“I feel that I did well keeping my composure after a tough start,” Weiss said. “I kept battling and focused on the next shot. The course at Ohio State has different challenges on every hole, and you have to stay focused.”
The Mustangs came back on Saturday with a team score of 364, which was good for seventh in the field for the day.
Weiss led the way with an 86 (43-43), Emily Cook turned in a scorecard of 88 (44-44), Maddie Cook also shot an 88 (40-48) and Marianna Packer fired a 102 (52-50). Oney also played for the Mustangs and shot 110 (57-53).
Weiss discussed getting the opportunity to play at Ohio State and accomplishing the Mustangs’ top goal for the season.
“It was a great opportunity to play at Ohio State,” she said. “From the beginning of the season, our team’s goal was to get to the state tournament. After playing these last three days, on a tough course against great competition, it was the opportunity we were working towards all season.
“Getting to play at Ohio State and spending time with my teammates and coach was very enjoyable and created great memories. Also, the practice round on Thursday allowed me to play one last round with our seniors, Emily and Maddie Cook. They have been great teammates the last two years, and they have taught me a lot on and off the course. I’m happy they got another chance to play in the state tournament.”
Weiss finished in a three-way tie for 23rd overall in the 71-golfer field with teammate Emily Cook. They both shot a two-day score of 171.
Maddie Cook tied for 30th overall with a two-day scorecard of 174, Packer finished 59th with a two-day tally of 211 and Oney tied for 66th overall with a two-day score of 222.
Hawken senior Ella Wong was the state medalist with a two-day scorecard of 152 and Crooksville senior Riley McKenzie followed in second with 153.
Columbus Academy won the state championship with a two-day team score of 647, followed by Garaway (670) and Independence (691). Westfall finished with a two-day tally of 727.
Weiss played the top spot this season in the Mustangs’ lineup and discussed how she wants to build off her first state tournament appearance to have an even stronger season as a junior in 2023.
“After getting the chance to play in the state tournament this year, my goal is to get back there next year,” she said. “This year allowed me to see that I can compete against some of the best players in the state of Ohio.
“I know moving forward, there are things I need to work on and improve in my game. I’m going to take what I learned this season and put in time and hard work in the offseason to improve my game.”
Barker knows that it will be difficult to replace the Cook sisters, who played in three state tournaments for the Mustangs, but he believes the building blocks are in place to continue the program’s tradition of strong play on the links in 2023.
“We are only returning three players next year from this state tournament weekend, but I’m excited about our No. 6, Kathryn Lockhart, stepping up to score for us next year, and we have a great prospect in eighth-grader Michelle Pickett, who is already showing the kind of work ethic that’s expected from a Mustang golfer,” he said. “Losing the Cook sisters is going to be exactly that, a loss. They have been a staple in this program over the last four years, and I believe that they also played a crucial role in helping keep a great program moving forward.
“It has been an absolute blessing that I got to step into this position this year. These girls are not just fantastic golfers, but even better people. I am so proud of everything they are, and incredibly thankful for the awesome families that support the team.”
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