The Helias Lady Crusaders are happy to be there.
Now they want to do something with their opportunity.
“We’ve got a one out of eight chance,” Helias coach Dan Campbell said as the Lady Crusaders prepared for the Class 2 state tournament that begins this morning at Columbia Country Club.
“We’re going to shoot for the stars, see if we can win it.”
The Lady Crusaders finished second in the District 2 Tournament last Monday at Heritage Hills in Moberly to qualify for state. That wouldn’t have happened last season, when the Missouri State High School Activities Association had a rule that only teams that advanced at least four individuals could post a team score.
Helias won the Class 3 District 2 team title last season, but only had three golfers post scores that qualified them to advance. So they didn’t advance as a team.
With the rule, designed to increase pace of play at the state tournament, only two teams advanced last year in Class 1. Sedalia Sacred Heart won the state title, finishing 100 strokes ahead of Brookfield.
“We kind of figured the change was going to happen, it’s nice to get the two teams back in from each district,” Campbell said.
But in a concession of getting two teams out of the four districts, each only gets four golfers instead of its usual five, unless that fifth golfer shot a score that qualified them at the district tournament once the qualifying team scorers were eliminated.
“Unfortunately, we lost one of our seniors in Grace Cooper, but I think this is more like it should be,” Campbell said. “But there are less than 90 players in every state tournament, which is more manageable. It should cut down on some of the longer rounds at state.”
Sophie Hinds, a sophomore, led the Lady Crusaders by finishing fourth in the district tournament.
“She’s been our No. 1 all year, she’s been steady,” Campbell said. “We know what we’re going to get from her pretty much every round, she’s been very consistent.”
Hinds was 23rd at the Class 3 state tournament last year.
Sophie VanDyne, a junior, finished eighth at the district tournament for the Lady Crusaders.
“She has been consistent in the mid-80s all season,” Campbell said.
VanDyne was a state qualifier last year, tying for 50th.
Molly Case and Raygan Hamilton are Helias’ other two individual qualifiers.
Case tied for 22nd at the district tournament as a freshman.
“She wasn’t at any of our camps,” Campbell said. “But the first day of practice, I watched her hit balls and she was pretty good.”
Case is a former hockey player and it shows in her swing, Campbell said.
“She doesn’t have a big follow-through, it’s a slap shot,” he said. “But she’s doing phenomenal as a freshman, she’s getting a lot of valuable experience.”
Hamilton, a senior, tied for 25th at the district tournament.
“She doesn’t hit it very far, but her short game is pretty good,” Campbell said. “She makes her 3- and 4-foot putts for pars and bogeys.”
Helias is aiming to shoot 365-370 in each round of the two-day tournament.
“If we can come in around 740, I think we’d have a shot, especially for a team trophy,” Campbell said.
Campbell is stressing the Lady Crusaders need to take big numbers out of play.
“Pars and bogeys go a long way in the state tournament,” Campbell said. “Even a double-bogey or two won’t necessarily hurt you. You just don’t want to have a lot of big numbers, the 9s and 10s, those add up pretty quick.
“We don’t need any hero shots, just get it back in the fairway, take your medicine and move on.”
That means keeping the driver in the bag on a lot of holes.
“Just hit an iron off the tee, get it in the fairway and take that big number out of play from the get-go,” Campbell said. “Get it in the short grass, not behind the big oak tree.”
Columbia Country Club figures to test players with its big greens.
“We need to knock out the three-putt as much as we can,” Campbell said. “With the size of the greens there, we will have some 50- and 60-foot putts, we need to be ready to lag them as close as we can.”
A pair of St. Louis schools — Visitation Academy and Ursuline Academy — are among the favorites to take team honors.
“Visitation is really good, Ursuline is really good,” Campbell said. “We haven’t shot close to what those two did at districts, but we don’t know what kind of course they were playing.
“Anything can happen.”
Helias played a practice round at the course a couple of weeks ago and again Sunday.
“I’m sure there will be nerves when they announce your name and there’s a gallery,” Campbell said. “But I’m sure they’ll settle in after a hole or two, it’s just another golf tournament after that.
“We’ve been playing pretty well, hopefully we’re hitting our peak.”
Action will begin at 8:30 a.m. today and Tuesday.
“It will be a great experience for the girls, hopefully we can play well,” Campbell said.
The Eldon Lady Mustangs also qualified as a team for the Class 2 state tournament.
Eldon advanced by winning the District 3 Tournament title by two shots ahead of Nevada.
Three Lady Mustangs finished in the top 10 at districts. Autumn Allen and Avery Wells tied for sixth for the Lady Mustangs, while Hannah Petet tied for ninth. Danielle Clifton finished 18th to qualify for Eldon.
The Blair Oaks Lady Falcons will have one golfer at the Class 2 state tournament, while Southern Boone and School of the Osage will both have two.
Hannah Rackers of Blair Oaks finished in a three-way tie for the final qualifying spot in District 2.
Lily Frazier of Southern Boone was the District 2 individual champion, while Lila Frazier finished fifth for the Lady Eagles. Lily Frazier was 14th in Class 2 last year, while Lila Frazier finished in a tie for 17th.
Hanna Maschhoff was third for Osage in the District 3 Tournament, while Sophia Rivera-Sindlinger tied for ninth. Maschhoff was 10th in Class 2 last year, while Rivera-Sindlinger was 11th.
Three area golfers will make the short trip to Meadow Lake Acres Country Club in New Bloomfield for the Class 3 state tournament.
Camryn Swinfard of Jefferson City, along with Capital City teammates Taylor Hovis and Jaycie Lowery, will play in the two-day tournament that starts at 8:30 a.m. today.
Swinfard is coming off a tie for 18th in the Class 3 state tournament last year.
Hovis was 48th in the Class 3 tournament last year, while Lowery will be making her first state appearance.
Audrey Rischer of Father Tolton, who shot a course-record 60 at Meadow Lake earlier this season, and defending Class 3 state individual champion Kiser Pannier of Sedalia Smith-Cotton figure to be among those in the mix for individual championship honors.
Silvia Moss and Dixie Moss of New Bloomfield both advanced to the Class 1 state tournament at Silo Ridge Golf and Country Club in Bolivar.
Silvia Moss, who finished fourth in the District 1 tournament, was fifth in Class 1 last year. Dixie Moss, who tied for ninth at districts, finished 22nd at state last year.