KEARNEY — Lincoln Southwest stole the show at the A-1 District golf tournament Monday at Awarii Dunes Golf Course.
But Kearney High stayed on solid ground. The Bearcats finished third, advancing to the state tournament for the fourth time in five years.
“It was just a grind, which ... at this point you’re in a survive-and- advance mode,” KHS coach JD Carson said. “We would have liked to push Westside and been runner-up today but the big job was to get down to the big dance and we got that done. So we’ll get some more work in this week and we’ll move on.”
Kearney shot a four-player score of 376, beating fourth-place Millard West by 35 strokes. The Bearcats finished 10 strokes behind Omaha Westside but a wide gap existed by Lincoln Southwest and the field.
Led by sophomore Kate Strickland, who shot a Nebraska district record 6-under-par 66, the Silverhawks posted a team score of 317.
Strickland, who finished third at last year’s rain-shortened state meet, eagled the par-5 ninth hole to make the turn at 4-under par. However, she was only one stroke ahead of Omaha Westside’s Kaitlyn Hanna, who tied for the state title last year..
The both birdied the par-5 12th hole, then bogeyed the 13th hole. It was the only bogey for Strickland but started a streak where Hanna bogeyed six five of the last six holes to finish with an even-par 72.
Kearney’s Emily Jensen filled out the threesome and finished seventh, shooting a 92.
“I thought Emily Jensen had a tough pairing,” Carson said. “I mean, that’s tough to play with. And, to see how far they hit it and to not want to try and hit it that far as well, that’s difficult. She did a pretty good job throughout most of the day of staying within herself and just kind of playing her game. So that was good to see.”
Jensen, Kearney’s only senior, shot a 43 on the front nine before slipping to a 49 on the back. Her score differential wasn’t uncommon for the Bearcats. Betsey Lewis went 55-44 for a 99 and Hannah Lydiatt was 43-54 for a 97.
“We struggled. It was a tale of two nines for all of them,” Carson said.
Megan Ernst, who tied Jensen at 92, had her see-saw ride end after four holes where she was already 8-over par.
“I thought Megan Ernst did a heck of a job. I think her opening four holes were double, double, bogey, triple, and then she comes out and she ties our low score. That’s just a testament to being mentally tough and we need more of that. So that was awesome to see,” Carson said..
Eve Edwards added a 95 to Kearney’s score, playing what Carson called a “worry-free round.”
The state tournament, scheduled for two days and 36 holes, tees off Monday with Class A playing at the Norfolk Country Club.
1, Lincoln Southwest 317. 2, Omaha Westside 366. 3, Kearney High 376. 4, Millard West 411. 5, Papillion-La Vista South 447. 6, Lincoln Northeast 455. 7, Lincoln North Star 498. 8, Omaha Bryan 712. 9, Omaha Benson NTS.
Top 10 Individuals
1, Kate Strickland, LSW, 66. 2, Kaitlyn Hanna, OW, 72. 3, Brynn Sundquist, LSW, 79. 4, Neely Adler, LSW, 84. 5, Tatum Terwilliger, LSW, 88. 6, Portia Lenczowski, OW, 91. 7, Emily Jensen, KHS, 92. 8, Claire Bonnett, OW, 92. 9, Megan Ernst, KHS, 92. 10, Emily Evans, MW, 92.
Other KHS Scores
14, Eve Edwards 95. 15, Hannah Lydiatt, 97. 16, Betsey Lewis 99.