Carmel High School girls golf team sticks to plan, wins state title

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For Carmel High School girls golf coach Kelly Kluesner, winning the state title was just a matter of sticking to the game plan in the IHSAA state finals.

The No. 1-ranked Greyhounds won by 14 strokes with a team total of 629, ahead of Center Grove and Castle, which finished tied for second with a 643 total Oct. 1 at the IHSAA state finals at Carmel’s Prairie View Golf Club. After leading the first round early, Carmel started the second round three shots behind Center Grove.

“Maybe we got a little ahead of ourselves on some of the holes on the back nine and learned,” said Kluesner, a former CHS golfer who is in her seventh year as coach.

Kluesner said the conditions in the second round were very tough.

“This course is a tricky one. The layout is hard, and then you add in the wind and great competitors, and it becomes a tough test of their abilities quickly,” Kluesner said. “We just said after (the first round) we had to reset and go back to our game plan, which is just simple golf, fairways, greens, two putts, and move on. They did a great job of it. They stayed patient all day.”

Junior Claire Swathwood was low for the Greyhounds, finishing in a tie for sixth among individuals with 80-75 for a 155 total. Sophomore Sophie Mock was tied for 10th among individuals with 81-75 for a 156 total.

Junior Micaela Headlee was one shot behind, scoring 82-75 for a 157 total.

Headlee said the team didn’t play its best after the first round.

“We knew it would be good enough (to win) if we all just played our best game, and that’s what we ended up doing,” Headlee said. “We just stayed confident with our own game and not let everything around us affect how we played.”

Ava Nguyen, the only senior in the starting lineup, and junior Kamryn Williams each had a 165 total. Williams’ score was counted in the second round and Nguyen’s score was counted in the first round. The top four scores of the five golfers from each round make up the final total.

It was the Greyhounds’ third state title in girls golf, with the others in 1980 and 2013. Fittingly, Martha Foyer Faulconer, who played on the 1980 state championship team and was a three-time state individual champion, assisted in the medal ceremony.

The Greyhounds finished third in the 2021 state finals.

“As a team, we’ve really grown our bond the past couple of years,” Swathwood said. “We came in as a team and really wanted to win as a team. I think it helped us.”

Swathwood said she improved during the past year.

“I came out here to really attack this golf course,” she said. “I worked my butt off these last couple of months just getting ready for this tournament. I’m striking the ball well and got my putting down. I knew even after a rough first day, I was hitting the ball well.”

Swathwood said the team will be ready to contend again next season.

“It’s great to win this one and we’ll be in a great spot again next year,” Swathwood said. “Getting two in a row after only having two in the entire high school history (before this year) would be pretty special.”

Swathwood, Headlee and Mock all were named to the all-state team. It was the third straight year Headlee has earned all-state honors.

“Michaela and Claire are great friends, but they challenge each other, which is always fun to see,” Kluesner said.

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