When Free State High girls golf coach Layne Meyer thinks about how far the team has come in the past couple of months, he realizes this season couldn’t have developed any better had he planned it this way.
The Firebirds, the first-year coach said, played their best golf at exactly the right time last week at a Class 6A regional in Wichita, where they finished third to qualify the whole team for today’s state tournament at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course in Garden City.
“They’ve worked really hard,” Meyer said. “Their performance at the regional was just outstanding.”
Three of the six FSHS golfers posted season-low scores at the regional: junior Karen Campbell shot 86, junior Erin Meyers had a 94, and senior Maddie Williams finished with a 97.
Those season-bests, combined with junior Emily Bermel’s 83, gave Free State the low four-player total it needed to get to state, where FSHS freshman Anne Goebel and junior Catie Griffin — as well as individual qualifiers from Lawrence High, seniors Abby Schmidtberger and Campbell Drake — will be among the 92 competitors.
Bermel, Campbell and Schmidtberger qualified for state in 2012. Campbell, who had a “great time” at last week’s regional because she broke 90 for the first time and produced her best round, doesn’t plan to stress out in Garden City today.
“State is more serious,” Campbell admitted, “(but) you can focus on your own game, which I think is fun.”
The happy FSHS junior said she and her teammates are ready to keep their positive momentum going.
“This whole week,” Campbell said, “we’ve just been trying to get our swings where they need to be — not over-practicing, but putting and chipping a lot.”
Today marks Schmidtberger’s third straight state appearance. She expects it won’t be difficult to improve on last year’s score, a 97, because her play has been far more consistent as a senior, and she tends to shoot in the 82 to 84 range.
“I definitely played a lot over the summer and worked a lot on my short game, which has definitely helped me a lot this year,” Schmidtberger said heading into her final high school tournament. “It’s more fun to play when you’re playing well.”
Drake is one of the few state golfers from the eastern side of the state who had played the far-away Garden City course before Sunday’s practice round. Late last week, Drake said she mostly remembered Buffalo Dunes for being difficult and longer than most courses.
Drake isn’t worried about contending for a medal, because she has something else to chase.
“I want to break 90,” the Lions senior said. “That’s one of my goals for the season, and I haven’t done it yet. I’ve been close a lot.”