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Jackson girls golf brings home second state plaque in three years

The Jackson girls golf team poses with the Class 4 Fourth Place plaque following this year’s state tournament in Bolivar. Pictured in the front row from left to right: Assistant coach Jeffery Singer, head coach Jeff Fahrner, senior Grace Hightower, senior Harper Ready, senior Alana Gilbert, sophomore Julia Schlitt and junior Madison Thrower. Submitted photo

After all five members of the Jackson girls golf team qualified for the Class 4 State Tournament as individuals instead of a team, the Indians managed to take home a plaque after finishing in fourth place.

Jackson scored a team total of 679 as two Indians placed in the top 30, while the next two rounded out the top 48 as the final golfer for Jackson finished 59th overall. The Indians finished two strokes ahead of Father Tolton (681) to do so as Jackson’s district opponents Visitation Academy and St. Joseph’s finished first and second with scores of 638 and 643, respectively.

“It was close, and I had no idea,” Jackson’s Indiana State verbal commit Alana Gilbert said. “Coach [Fahrner] came up to me on the 17th hole and goes, ‘We are five strokes from fifth place, so finish strong. It’s up to you, champ.’

“This team managed to go out there and do our thing. This program has grown a lot over time. We don’t rebuild, we reload. I say we overall have a strong team — it’s not just a couple good players and people who’ve never played before.”

Placing in the top 20 was Gilbert as she produced a final score of 162 after shooting a 75 on day one and ended day two at 87. This was the second-straight year Gilbert has finished inside the top 20, and it’s the second state plaque she has helped Jackson bring home in her career.

Finishing in the top 30 with Gilbert was Indians sophomore Julia Schlitt, as she only finished two strokes behind Alana with a final score of 164. Schlitt, who will be competing in the National Junior Golf Championship this December in Orlando, shot an 82 on both days.

Coming up with the third-best score for Jackson was senior Harper Ready, who finished in 47th place by posting a score of 177. Ready scored a 93 on day one, but she followed that up with an 84 to help the Indians secure a state plaque.

“We all know day one wasn’t our best, and we were feeling the pressure,” Ready said. “For me especially, I had expected so much of my senior year, and it had led up to these two rounds.

“When I teed off on day two, something just felt right. … Bringing home a trophy this year meant the world to me. I can’t imagine a better way to close out my final season. I’m so lucky to have such amazing coaches and teammates to share this incredible experience with.”

Also placing in the top 50 with Ready was junior Madison Thrower as she tallied a final score of 178 by shooting a 91 on day one and followed that up with a score of 87 on the final day.

Even though she finished outside of the top 50 with a score of 185, Jackson senior Grace Hightower’s day-two score of 85 helped the Indians take home fourth place by two strokes after scoring a 100 to start the tournament.

“When you play a 36-hole golf tournament, you’re going to have your ups and downs,” Coach Fahrner said. “Everybody on our team stumbled at some point, but the thing is whenever they stumbled, their teammates were there to pick them up.”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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