Fenton leads Lady ‘Cats to 8th at state
Basehor-Linwood High School junior Lindsey Fenton proved on Monday that, when it comes to the state golf tournament, experience is a valuable asset.
Fenton was the only Bobcat to qualify for state last year. This year she returned with her entire team and had the best round of any of the six Lady Bobcats.
Fenton shot a 102, one stroke better than BLHS senior Amanda Leive, and shaved a lot of strokes off last year's state tournament score.
"I had my teammates here and that helped a lot," Fenton said of her significant improvement. "Plus, I wasn't as nervous, because I'd already been through it once."
Fenton was just a few bad breaks from finishing under 100, including a short putt on 18 that lipped out. She, Leive, junior Megan O'Bryan and senior Laura Reed formed the top four for BLHS, and their scores totaled 425. That put the Lady Bobcats in eighth place in the 12-team field at Topeka's Western Hills Golf Course. The other members of the team were senior Megan Henley and freshman Alex Oakes.
The Bobcats finished out of contention for one of the three trophies that were handed out and missed a chance to make school history by becoming the first BLHS state champions in athletics. Chances of that turned out to be slim, anyway, as a stacked Andover team beat everyone else in the field by 55 strokes.
Still, just being at state was a valuable experience for the Lady Bobcats and their coach, Ryan Higgins.
"Schools around the state know our name now, and I doubt there's another school out here that's a second-year program," Higgins said.
Indeed, the program's two-year turnaround from start-up to state was one of the best stories at Monday's tournament. When Higgins started the team many of its members hadn't played golf before, even recreationally. They went into their first meet with the simple goal of not finishing last and, instead, took fourth.
Fourteen months later they were beating some of the state's best. Higgins, though, brushed off suggestions that his coaching was responsible for the team's quick ascent.
"We've had a good mix of athletic experience on the team," Higgins said. "Most of these girls are involved in other sports, or have been involved in other sports, and it's easier to teach golf to athletes than non-athletes."
Besides becoming a model for other new golf teams, the Lady Bobcats spent most of the weekend making memories that will spur their returning golfers to try and get back to state.
Team bonding events included a practice round Sunday and a team dinner afterwards. The Lady Bobcats then spent Sunday night in a hotel in Topeka before getting up for their Monday morning tee times.
All of which made for a memorable experience, whether the Lady 'Cats finished first or last.
"At least we made it here as a team," Fenton said.