Despite an up-and-down, inconsistent season, Scotus Central Catholic girls golf continued a program tradition on Tuesday, qualifying for its eighth straight trip to the state tournament with a district title win at the Oakland Golf Club.
The Shamrocks totaled 402 as a team and had three players inside the top-10 for an eight-stroke win over West Point-Beemer. Oakland-Craig, with a 449 total, also earned a team spot at state in third place.
Scotus medalists included Makenzie Enderlin tying for third with a round of 91, Jaycee Ternus taking seventh with a score of 102 and Jaelyn Podolak tying for eighth with a 103.
Enderlin was just four shots short of runner-up Abbigail Broderson of Boone Central, who earned an individual spot at state, with an 87. Brooke Diekemper of West Point-Beemer took the gold medal with an 18-hole final of 81.
The district title for Scotus makes it 12 state tournaments in the last 13 years. The only year the Shamrocks missed as a group was in 2011 when Amy Price was the lone qualifier and finished tied for 23rd.
And while this latest season had its highs and lows, coach Tanya Niedbalski said her group traveled to Oakland with a hopeful attitude.
"Believe it or not, we had a higher level of confidence going into the district tournament than any of the other meets," she said. "The girls continually ask me for results of our competition at districts all season long and who I expected to be our stiffest competition at the district meet. Still, nothing is guaranteed, and they knew that going in."
Niedbalski credited Enderlin's focus in the No. 1 group as the reason she was able to find herself into the top five. The Scotus senior concerned herself with her play rather than worry about how to stick with the leaders.
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For Ternus, it was a rough front nine. Niedbalski said her other senior couldn't find any rhythm but turned it around once she made the turn, surprisingly enough on the more difficult part of the course.
Podolak had similar struggles, carding 49 on the front, but as the No. 5 golfer, her 103 proved to be a difference-maker in the team score.
Other Shamrock performances included Alaina Dierman shooting 106 and Avery Dierman putting together a 115.
"Both seniors, Makenzie and Jaycee, have been great role models and leaders the past two years," Niedbalski said. "They were instrumental in getting the entire team out on the golf course this past summer and doing some team bonding activities with all of the team before the season began. They gave great insight to the underclassmen as to what to expect at each meet we played in."
Scotus now faces a field of 14 other teams next Monday and Tuesday at Lake Maloney Golf Course in North Platte. The Shamrocks are seeking their first-ever state title. They were as close as runners-up as recently as 2013 and 2014.
"The girls say their goal is a top-five finish at state," Niedbalski said. "It's not impossible to achieve."
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.