CARMEL – It was a fitting end of the season for the Zionsville girls golf team, and their senior class that has meant so much to the program.
For the fourth-straight year, the Lady Eagles finished the state meet on the podium, placing third with a two-day total of 635.
“I am so proud of them,” Zionsville head coach Steve Simmons said. “For these four seniors that were in the line-up, they have had the best four years in school history. You have two seniors in Abby Thielbar and Annabelle Pancake, that have led this group for four years, then you mix in two great young ladies in Megan Gray and Michelle O’Brien, who had perservered and made huge strides this year to improve. Then you have our really good junior in Lauren Kaltenmark, who is going to be a great player next year. It was just a fantastic year.”
The Eagles were sitting in fourth after Day One, just one shot out of third, but also just one shot ahead of second, but weren’t happy with the way they played, shooting a 324.
They shot a 311 on Day 2, and the key was getting off to a much better start. They were even-par through three holes as a team of Saturday, after being 7-over as a team on Friday.
“They had a great attitude this morning, they were loose and they had a lot of fun,” Simmons said. “We got off to such a good start today, and when you get a positive feeling after the first couple of holes, that carried us through. We had a little lull in the middle of the round, but bounced back and played the last three or four holes really well.”
For the fourth-time in her career, Annabelle Pancake was named all-state.
By her own lofty standards, she was a little off on day one, shooting a 76.
She played better on Saturday, making the turn at 1-under, and after a bogey at 12, she had three birdies in her final six holes of her tournament to place tied for third individually.
Pancake, who will play at Clemson next season, is the first Eagle ever to be all-state all four years in high school.
“We have only had a couple three-time all-state players on the boys side, with Adam Wood, James Sachek and Joey Ranieri,” Simmons said. “In my opinion, Annabelle is the greatest player, boy or girl, that has played at Zionsville. The way she can dominate a field is special. She is longer than everyone else in high school golf, she has great touch around the greens and her work ethic. She has just been phenomenal to be around. She is a great young lady, who has a great attitude and it has been fun to watch.”
It is the end of a era for Zionsville golf, as Annabelle becomes the fourth and final Pancake to play for the Eagles.
Starting with Allie in 2003, there has only been one year in the last 16 where a Pancake hasn’t been a member of a Zionsville golf team.
“It’s an end of an era and it is disappointing because the Pancakes have been a great golf family,” Simmons said. “I was here at the beginning of the boys, when T.J. came and played golf for me in middle school, then I got the varsity job. Tony and Libby have been so supportive in so many ways. They host a great event at Crooked Stick for us, they have been there to support not only their own kids but other kids too, and they want to see other kids succeed as much as their own. That’s really rare to see in any sport and that’s what I’m going to miss – watching them cheer on not only their child, but the other kids on the team.”
Pancake was joined on the all-state team by junior Lauren Kaltenmark, who tied for ninth with a two-day total of 153 (9-over). She shot a 76 in the second round.
Simmons said it couldn’t be happier for Kaltenmark, who has been extremely consistent all year.
“It is a perfect cap to her season,” Simmons said. “She has probably been our most consistent player all year. I don’t think she shot over 77 all year, she shot the 68 at the sectional and on 99 percent of the teams of the state she would be the No. 1 player. She has a very, very bright future and I am very, very happy for her.”
It was also the final high school career for Abby Thielbar, who will go down as another one of the greatest Zionsville players of all-time.
She was a two-time all-state selection, and along with Pancake played four seasons on the varsity, helping the team podium four times, including a state title their sophomore year and a state runner-up last year.
Thielbar was also named academic all-state this year.
Thielbar was tied for 21st overall with a 161.
She shot an 80 in round 2.
Megan Gray shot an 86 in the second round, and finished tied for 56th overall. Michelle O’Brien was tied for 78th, shooting a 97 in the second round.
Simmons, who finished his first year coaching the girls side after coaching for several year on the boys, said this was a special group to coach.
“The thing that is going to stick out to me is how talented they are,” Simmons said. “This group, especially the top-4, have made more birdies than any team I have ever coached. Most of them are averaging three or four birdies a round and I have been amazed by that. They play an aggressive style of golf, and it showed in their scores. The talent and work ethic are what I will remember the most.”
Day 1 Recap
CARMEL – It was a tough day on the golf course of the Zionsville girls golf team Friday afternoon on Day 1 of the IHSAA State Finals.
But while the Eagles score of 324 wasn’t quite what they were looking for, they are still sitting in fourth place, just one shot out of third and have all their team goals ahead of them to play for.
“The golf course played pretty tough today, and I think with the exception of Homestead, all the scores were a little high,” Zionsville head coach Steve Simmons said. “We got off to a rough start and never got it turned around. As poorly as we played, all the goals we have are still right there for us. We will come back tomorrow with good attitudes and see what they can do.”
The Eagles were 5-over as a team after the first hole, and were 21-over as a team after the first nine holes.
The team then was 33-over through 13 and in danger of getting out of podium contention.
But the team was able to pull it together on the final five holes, playing just 3-over as a team, including 2-under as a team on the final two holes.
“We played 17 and 18 really well,” Simmons said. “I was really pleased with how we finished. We just have to get off to a better start. We had some players put up some bigger numbers on holes that they haven’t done all year, and a little of that was the course and first-tee jitters, but we will be fine tomorrow.”
Annabelle Pancake is eighth overall at the opening round after shooting a 76.
Lauren Kaltenmark is tied for ninth with a 77. The top-10 finishers in the tournament automatically earn all-state honors.
Pancake is looking to be a four-time all-state honoree, while it would be a first for Kaltenmark.
“Lauren deserves all-state,” Simmons said. “She has been so consistent this year. She shot a 68 at the sectional, and outside of that she has been between 73-77 all year long. I would love nothing more than to see her get all-state and it would be a fitting end to a great junior year for her.”
After a tough front-nine, Abby Thielbar came back to shoot 2-over on the back and finished with an 81.
Megan Gray had a 90 and Michelle O’Brien a 96 to round out the Eagles’ line-up.