Goodling takes second place at Districts MC sophomore moves on to Regionals
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Haley Goodling fired one birdie on Saturday at the District 3 Girls Golf Championships.
And it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Manheim Central sophomore.
Having shot a two-day total of 167 (86-81) at the Briarwood West Golf Course, she finished in a second-place tie with Red Land’s Ali Habermehl. But in the playoff round, Goodling birdied the par-4 hole one to clinch the silver medal. She was one of 10 who qualified for the PIAA Eastern Regional Tournament, set for Monday, Oct. 17 at Golden Oaks Golf Club in Fleetwood.
"(Haley) has continued to improve and has been working hard and gaining confidence with her post-season play," Manheim Central coach Phil Blanck remarked. "She is a very consistent player and controls her emotions very well during play."
Warwick junior Drew Baker also competed at the District 3 Boys Championships and fell a little short of moving on with a two-day total of 156 (79-77), placing him tied for 36th overall. The top 20 boys finishers advanced to the Regional Tournament.
Goodling and Baker both had the same goal in mind heading into the second day of the tournament, which was to improve their score.
The top 15 girls made the cut on Thursday, and Spring Grove’s Victoria Kuntz, Mechanicsburg’s Jamie Wharton and Palmyra’s Ceci Richardsen all were the final ones to advance with a 93.
"I was just trying to make it to the second day," Goodling said, "and then hopefully to Regionals."
She acknowledged that her long game wasn’t as sharp as she would have liked. But even with "trickier" greens than she was accustomed to playing, Goodling rose to the occasion in her short game.
"My long shots didn’t go very straight, so I didn’t give myself a good chance to reach the green when I was supposed to," she said. "And the course was soaked — it was so muddy and wet everywhere — so it was even harder for me. But my putting and chipping, my short game overall, saved me so much."
On the second day of the tournament, Goodling shot a 41 on the front nine, then came back with a 40 on the back nine while sinking par on six of seven holes.
"I beat my score on the back nine by one stroke, but I felt like I was playing a lot better though, for some reason," she said. "I was hitting everything a little bit straighter on the back."
The par-4 10th hole, featuring a small creek running through the fairway and then hazards on both sides of the green, was the only spot that gave Goodling a fit. Still, although she finished with a nine on Thursday and a seven on Saturday, she was able to bounce back.
"Between those two days, I ended up hitting it in all three hazards," Goodling laughed.
"She hung in there and showed great patience for a freshman player," Blanck said.
That persistence, of course, helped her close out the round in a second-place tie with Habermehl. Only Central Dauphin’s Allison Cooper (74-79-153) finished with a better score. Going to the playoff, Habermehl and Goodling were both allies and opponents.
"We were both kinda nervous. We were like, ‘Hit. Go fast so no one comes,’ because we didn’t want many people to watch," Goodling laughed.
But the Central sophomore overcame her nerves to hit one of her best tee shots of the day, setting her up for a strong finish.
"My first shot, I was like, ‘Alright, my driver hasn’t been going very well,’ but I decided to trust it one more time and see where it would go and I hit it straight down the middle," Goodling said. "So I was good with that one."
Following up on her second shot, she dropped a perfect shot onto the green, leaving her 20 feet from the cup for birdie.
"I was nervous with that club too, but I realized that I do pretty well under pressure and I hit the best shot that I ever hit that day," Goodling said.
Asked about her goals for Regionals, Goodling said, "I guess I’ll say the same old, and ‘have fun.’ Now that I made it this far, I’m going to hope to get to States. It’s much more difficult, but I guess that if I keep practicing and keep having fun, then I’ll have a better chance."
Elsewhere, Baker’s 9-over 79 on the first day of the tournament matched the cut, and although he improved his score by two strokes on the second day of competition, it wasn’t enough for him to advance to Regionals.
"I just don’t think he had his A-game, especially on the first day," Warwick coach Rob Fisher said. "He kind of fought himself around the course a little bit, but that was one of those rounds where you just try to hold it together enough to make the second day. He knew he had to shoot super, super low on the second day, so it changes the whole complexion of how you’re looking at it."
On day two, the Warwick junior got a solid start and was even after five holes, but it wasn’t meant to be.
"He kinda needed to shoot right around even (to advance to Regionals)," Fisher said. "But it’s hard to hang in there. That’s a lot of pressure. But he had a great season."
Fortunately for Baker, he still has one season left at Warwick and will no doubt be looking to go a step or two further in 2012.
"He’s disappointed in himself, but it’s one of those things — you grow from it and you keep working," Fisher said. "And he’s one of those kids that will keep working." More GOODLING, page B-5