Lexington Christian sophomore Laney Frye had the second-highest score and was the top state-qualifying individual at last year’s region tournament at Juniper Hills Golf Course in Frankfort.
This year’s contest was played at her home course: Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville. That could be said for a lot of the golfers in the field, but it’s especially true for Frye, who lives in a house on the course.
How often is she on the greens?
“Every day,” she said with a laugh. “I’m constantly out here after school.”
Her dedication is paying dividends; Frye won the individual title at the 7th Region girls’ golf tournament on Tuesday, shooting a 1-over-74. That score led the champion Eagles, who defeated Madison Central, 330-338, for the team title.
Laney has taken lessons from Larry Ward, who operates High Performance Golf Academy within the confines of Keene Trace, since she was in elementary school. One unanticipated challenge she had to tackle in the last year? Growing more than six inches.
“At first it kind of disoriented me but now I’m back to it,” said Frye, who now stands about 5-foot-7. “My growth has slowed down a little bit so I’m able to get my touch and get it all back together.”
Lexington Christian has been on a heater lately. It won the Henry Clay Invitational last week after winning its first All “A” Classic state title earlier this month.
Tuesday’s win gave Lexington Christian its first girls’ golf region title since 2006, when the team was coached by current boys’ coach Eric Geldhof. The Eagles finished third last season with the same core players.
“We’re in a tough region, which makes it a little more special,” LCA Coach B Frye said. “We’ve worked really hard. These girls, all of ’em have bought into the team concept and worked hard on their short games, a lot of lag cutting and lag chipping. It’s really paid off. Everybody’s scoring average has come down from last year.”
Madison Central didn’t win its third straight region title but the Indians did qualify for their third consecutive state tournament by virtue of the runner-up finish.
Central managed to qualify despite recent upheaval (former head coach Mike Neal left the team last week for personal reasons) and a sluggish start from its top two girls, MacKenzie Neal and Mattie Neeley. The Indians bested Paul Laurence Dunbar by two strokes.
“We finished strong, which is a whole lot better than starting strong and finishing weak, so I’m tickled with these girls,” Indians Coach Randy Neeley said. “We wanted to win and be three-time region champs but runners-up is pretty good.”
The top four individual state qualifiers from outside the top two teams all hailed from Lexington.
Dunbar’s Maddie Cecil had the day’s second-highest overall score with a 78. Dunbar’s Sarah Black and Henry Clay’s Kathleen Gibbs each shot an 80 while Lexington Catholic’s Kelli Harpe had an 81.
Black won the girls’ city championship last week and was feeling pretty good about her game. Cecil, who tied Gibbs for second at the city meet, said her confidence had been low until recently.
“Last year at region, I missed (qualifying) by a couple shots because I just completely bombed,” Cecil said. “So I pretty much just worked my tail off for region this year. So I’m really, really happy right now.”
1. Lexington Christian 330, 2. Madison Central 338, 3. Paul Laurence Dunbar 340, 4. Henry Clay 354, 5. Lafayette 380, 6. Lexington Catholic 387, 7. Model 391, 8. Anderson County 393, 9. Tates Creek 403, 10. Franklin County 434, 11. Madison Southern 452, 12. Woodford County 456
Top 10 individuals
1. Laney Frye, Lexington Christian, 74; 2. Maddie Cecil, Paul Laurence Dunbar, 78; t3. Emily Sparks, Lexington Christian, 79; t3. MacKenzie Neal, Madison Central; t4. Sarah Black, Paul Laurence Dunbar, 80; t4. Kathleen Gibbs, Henry Clay, 80; 6. Kelli Harpe, Lexington Catholic, 81; 7. Rebekah Upchurch, Mercer County, 82; t8. Mattie Neeley, Madison Central, 83; t8. Casey Powell, Paul Laurence Dunbar, 83; t10. Abby Harrel, Model, 84; t10. Brenan Taylor, Bryan Station, 84; t10. Madeline Vonlinger, Boyle County, 84