A two-hour rain delay shielded area golfers from the worst part of Wednesday’s downpour, but earning a spot in the state championship field would still end up being a grind in wet conditions at Island Hills Golf Club. But for the first time in 36 years, the Sturgis girls golf team finished the Division 3 regional tournament atop the leaderboard, adding to what was a spectacular day for the local contingent.
The Trojans scored a 375 to beat runner-up Niles by 36 strokes. The top two teams automatically qualify for the state finals. Three Rivers’ Erin Taylor shot an 85 to win the individual regional championship. Teammate Heidi Hines fired a 91 for fifth place to join Taylor as an individual state qualifier.
Only two strokes behind Taylor was Sturgis’ Rachel Webb, who carded the second-lowest score of the day with an 87. Katie Horn and Carli Sanford both finished with 92, Rylie Miller posted a 104 and Madisen Percival shot a 107 for the Trojans.
It’s the third time in the last four years Sturgis has qualified for the state championship tournament, which will be held at Forest Akers West at Michigan State University, in the last four seasons.
“Very Very proud of all of the girls and very happy for them,” Sturgis coach Ken Schau said. “We didn’t talk about winning the regional but each girl knew we were capable and it’s a nice accomplishment for the girls and the program and the school. We look forward to taking a few days off before we start preparing for the finals.”
For Taylor, just getting to the state tourney, anyway possible, was the priority.
“It is something that I never expected,” said Taylor, who registered a key birdie on No. 15. “It wasn’t even a goal for today. All I wanted to do was make it to state. The conditions were pretty tough, but I didn’t let it affect me much. Putting was hard because the greens were so inconsistent and the ground was super soft. I think I was just consistent overall and had a fun day.”