NICHOLASVILLE — Surprise, surprise!
There was a double dose of the unexpected at the girls' 7th Region golf tournament at Connemara on Tuesday as Franklin County won the team title and East Jessamine sophomore Madison Sawyer took medalist honors.
Franklin County started the year without two of its top four players. Taylor Cammack had shoulder surgery and missed the entire season. Aubrey Reid had mononucelosis and didn't regain her form until earlier this month.
But the Flyers put all that adversity behind them Tuesday. Erin Marshall and Abbi Stamper each shot 80 to lead the Flyers. Reid had an 85 and Hannah Robertson added a 103 for a 358 total, two shots better than Henry Clay.
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Both teams advance to next week's state tournament in Bowling Green.
Franklin County Coach Drex Davis said the region victory was "kind of redemption for last year" when the favored Flyers didn't qualify for the state.
"This was a real surprise," Davis said. "We were under the radar all season because nobody knew much about us. But the girls put it all together today."
Marshall, a senior who'll be making her fifth trip to the state, agreed: "It's really satisfying to pull this off because I don't think anybody expected us to do it."
Henry Clay's young golfers came through, too, led by junior Allison Leigeb's 86. Sophomore Alison Miller shot an 89, eighth-grader Sara Bidarian a 92, sophomore Meg Mills a 93 and eighth-grader Leslie Ginter a 95.
"It was a good day," Coach Kevin Mims said. "The wind made it brutal out there, but the girls stayed with it.
"We're so young, we're definitely building for the future. The girls are growing together and learning how they can count on each other."
While Franklin County and Henry Clay celebrated their team accomplishments, Sawyer was giddy about taking medalist honors. But she was also disappointed when she overheard people questioning the veracity of her score.
"These girls out here need to grow up," Sawyer said. "They're all saying I cheated.
"I didn't. I played my heart out and I won. My goal was to play my hardest and get to the state and I did it."
Sawyer admitted she surprised herself. "I thought I'd hit a little higher than a 76, maybe in the low 80s. But it turned out to be a 76."
"I chipped in on hole number 8 out of a sand box," Sawyer said.
East Jessamine Coach John Devney, who only watched Sawyer for two holes, said he was "more amazed than she was" by her round. "She told me she was on fire."
Besides Sawyer, three other golfers qualified for the state as individuals.
Megan Kinney of Western Hills, Rachel Pingleton of Boyle County, Kaitlyn Riley of Anderson County and Grace Rose of West Jessamine all shot 81s, and had a playoff to determine which three would advance to Bowling Green.
Kinney, Pingleton and Riley survived when Rose, one of the top sophomores in the state, bogeyed the first playoff hole.