Times Sports Editor
The Northview girls' golf program has a history of success that includes nine consecutive regional berths and five sectional championships over the past nine seasons.
Today at Forest Park Golf Course, the Knights are seeking a 10th straight trip to the regional when the team takes on nine other teams with the lowest three scores advancing to the Martinsville Regional at Foxcliff Golf Course next weekend along with the lowest three individuals not on an advancing team.
Terre Haute South comes in as the defending team champion and is the prohibitive favorite along with Terre Haute North and the Knights, who placed third last season. South Putnam and Cloverdale also have the talent to challenge for a regional spot.
Northview coach Josh Trout believes that this is perhaps the deepest field of talent that this sectional has had in awhile.
"It's not going to be easy this (today). I would say this is the most competitive sectional we've had since I've been coach," Trout said. "Obviously (Terre Haute) South is the favorite and defending sectional champion. (South) is averaging the best scores, Terre Haute North is a very competitive team and also made it out (of the sectional) last year and then us as the third-place team from last year, all have a chance."
"Cloverdale has a strong group with some returning talent and also the (Kayla) Langdon girl, their No. 1, advanced as well. Also South Putnam, who has played consistent all year and has given us some good competition," Trout said.
The Knights have had some ups and downs during the season, but are coming off their best nine-hole score of the season at Forest Park.
Northview shot a 169 to beat Owen Valley on Monday. The Patriots also shot their season-best during the round with a 196.
The Knights got a 40 from seniors Olivia Oehler and Mandy Thomlinson with Allison Trout shooting a 42. Hayley Miller added a 47 with Shelby French providing a score of 53.
Trout was happy to see his team come together at the right time of the season.
"From a team standpoint and with that being our best score it's been our goal all year to get to that point and I'm glad we accomplished that before sectionals," Trout said. "That was also Allison Trout's career-best round and also Mandy (Thomlinson) and Olivia (Oehler) shooting lower scores I think it was a confidence booster for everybody.
This season the Knights have typically gotten a good score or two during a match, but Monday's round proved to the girls what they can accomplish.
It's seemed like we'll have one girl shoot a good round and not get a lot of support, but that was one of those nights where it seemed everybody was on the same page and we were able to get one of those low scores we've been working towards," Trout said. "I told the girls that they had the potential to shoot that low, but we hadn't been able to achieve it, but I'm glad they achieved it, especially at this time of the year when you want to peak as a team."
One benefit to the Knights is playing on their home course, which will also benefit Owen Valley, who also calls Forest Park home. Northview has played a number of matches on the back-nine this season in preparation for today. Undoubtedly, playing on familiar turf will benefit the Knights according to Trout.
"It's always nice to get to play here, this is a course we know and are comfortable with and really, from a girls' golf standpoint, this is a great course to have (the sectional)," Trout said. "It's a challenging course, but not what I'd consider a punishing course. I think all the teams enjoy having the sectional (at Forest Park)."
The Braves return two members of last year's team that shot a 323 to advance to the regional and Kelsey Fuqua and Caylee Walburn will get another crack at the sectional course. Terre Haute North boasts a youthful lineup that includes sophomore Rachel Welker, who advanced to the state finals in her freshman season. She's joined by junior Rachel Helt, sophomore Jesi Kaperak and freshmen Nicole Anderson and Anna Potter.
Trout expects today's tournament to be wide open.
"Depending on how the girls play, anything can happen on Saturday," Trout said. "I'm very pleased with the way the girls have played the past few weeks. I think we've been playing our best golf of the year. Some of our girls have really come around and improved on their averages and if we can continue that then I think we can have a really strong showing."
Tee times begin at 9 a.m. this morning.