BROWNSBURG – For the first time in school history, the Zionsville girls golf team has won four-straight sectional titles.
The Eagles shot a 298 on Friday afternoon at West Chase to capture the title. Brownsburg was second with a 325 and Plainfield placed third with a 351.
“We wanted to come out and play a solid round of golf,” Zionsville head coach Steve Simmons said. “The girls know this golf course and have played really, really well here. We kind of let them do their own thing today and they played great.”
It was the eighth title in 10 seasons for the Eagles and ninth overall.
It is also the fourth-straight sectional that Zionsville has broken 300 at the sectional.
During their four-year run, the team has averaged just under a 292, which is 8-over as a team.
“We have always had fun at this event, and the seniors wanted to end it on a high note, which we did,” senior Annabelle Pancake said. “It was a lot of fun, and we were really excited for regionals and hopefully state to come.”
Pancake won the individual sectional title with a 65. The Eagles also got a career-best round from junior Lauren Kaltenmark, who shot a career-best 3-under 68.
Simmons said it was the breakout round he had been waiting for Kaltenmark.
“We have been trying to get her under par, and she had never done that before,” Simmons said. “This golf course plays really, really short, and as well as she hits her wedges and driver, it suits her. She got a few putts to drop too. She had four birdies and just one bogey, so it was a really consistent round of golf and I am really happy for her.”
For Pancake, it was the second-straight year she won the individual sectional title.
She was second as a freshman and third as a sophomore.
“It was a fun and relaxing round,” Pancake said. “I got to play with one of my good friends Marissa and we had a lot of fun. I think I hit the ball better today than I have in the last couple of weeks. It felt good to be confident in my swing.”
West Chase always seems to bring out the best in Pancake.
A season ago, Pancake shot her best round ever in the sectional, carding a 64. She didn’t quite match that as a senior, but during her four-year career she averaged a 67 on the course.
“The length of the course is a little shorter, so there are some holes that I can drive in one,” Pancake said. “That’s always fun, but a big thing that helps me here is the length, because I can reach a lot of the greens.”
As strong of a round as 65 is, Pancake felt like she could have been even a little better.
Zionsville head coach Steve Simmons said the senior was striking the ball really well on Friday afternoon.
“Honestly, Annabelle felt like something even lower was out there,” Simmons said. “She had many, many putts inside 10 feet and it was a really good ball striking round. She loves the putter, but it has been streaky a little bit. But she still played a fantastic round of golf and deserved to be sectional champion.”
Pancake said that as she heads into the regional next Saturday, and hopefully state the week after that, it is a good feeling to know there are still more shots out there to improve.
“It is nice to know there is room to improve,” Pancake said. “There were some putts today that didn’t drop out there, but really as a team it’s the same thing. We all have at least 2-3 shots out there and all these girls are capable of doing that and we are heading in the right direction.”
Abby Thielbar shot a 78 for the Eagles, with Megan Gray shooting an 87 for the final score.
Michelle O’Brien added a 91 as the fifth score.
Zionsville now heads to the Roncalli Regional at Smock Golf Course next Saturday.
The Eagles have played their twice already this season, and shot a 302 there two weeks ago.
“It will depend on how well we putt,” Simmons said. “We have made good decisions out there, and played pretty well. We just have to make sure we don’t make any big mistakes out there. If we stay away from big numbers, we should be able to survive and advance.”
While Pancake, Thielbar and Kaltenmark have experience playing in the regional, the other players do not.
Pancake said that during practice this week, the returning players will so all they can to prepare Gray and O’Brien for what to expect.
“The key is just to relax, play golf and have fun,” Pancake said. “You can’t put too much pressure on yourself. These girls are good enough, and if they just play their games, their scores will be good enough for us to qualify.”