By SCOTT COTTOS
ARLINGTON — Kyleigh Dull was fine with sharing the individual Division II district girls golf championship on Monday at Sycamore Springs Golf Course.
But settling for a tie also adds some fuel to her fire as Lakota’s defending co-state champion returns to the state tournament, scheduled for Oct. 11-12 at Ohio State University Golf Club’s Gray Course.
“I just see it as I’m still going to state,” the junior said after matching St. Henry junior Ellen Naumann for the day’s low round at 1-under 71. “… It kind of puts a little bit of, like, motivation in me to play better. The things I messed up on the course, I’ll practice more and get those things down for state so that way, a (lost) stroke or that type of thing doesn’t happen.”
The top four teams and the lowest-scoring four individuals not advancing with a team gained state bids.
Lima Central Catholic topped Huron 334-367 for the team championship. St. Henry was third at 371 and Shelby was fourth at 379. Van Buren brought up the rear of the 15-team field at 496.
Gibsonburg junior Sydney Leyerle followed Dull among individual qualifiers with a 76 and Wayne Trace junior Kenadie Daeger advanced with an 84.
Kalida senior Grace Miller survived a four-way playoff through four holes to claim the final state spot over Bellevue junior Lara Spurlock, Edison senior Jordan Pruitt and Otsego senior Olivia Jackson. All four in the playoff shot 85 for 18 holes.
Dull will be making her third state appearance. She placed fourth as a freshman before tying Shaker Heights Laurel School’s Jami Morris for last year’s championship.
“It definitely feels really good,” Dull said of her state three-peat. “I’m excited.”
Dull carded a 1-over 37 on the front nine before covering the back nine with a 2-under 34. She had a bogey and eight pars on the front nine before accounting for her back nine with three birdies, a bogey and five pars.
The front nine is considered the more scoreable side of the course.
“It was just kind of weird how I played the first nine in 1-over and then on the back side I shot 2-under,” she said. “It’s just crazy because I did better on the harder side. I wasn’t really expecting that.”
The round was Dull’s only one under par this season, but Raiders coach Ty Ray noted that’s likely due to her playing on the school’s boys team and hitting from the back tees.
Ray hopes her best performance is yet to come at state.
“Today she hit the ball really well,” he said. “It sounds dumb when you shoot 1-under par, but her putting stroke still isn’t there. There’s still stuff to improve upon. That’s the scary part right now — how well she’s playing and it’s still not her best.
“We’re excited to move on. That was the main objective today — to survive and advance, as they say. That’s what we did and to be able to be the low scorer today is just the frosting on the cake.”
The bad news for Van Buren’s team was finishing last. The good news was coach Rhonda Nye knows she has promising young players returning for another attempt to advance beyond the sectional level.
Freshman Claire Recker’s 99 was the low score for the Black Knights, who finished 55 strokes behind 14th-place Fairview.
“That’s what we got,” Nye said of her team’s finish. “It’s the first time any of them have played at this level.”
Three sophomores followed Recker in scoring for Van Buren — Ali Bishop (125), Charlotte Youngpeter (135) and Kendra Odenweller (137). Another sophomore, Taylor Stewart, finished at 138.
“Really, it was inexperience and nerves,” Nye said. “And shooting with girls who really could get the ball farther — I think that kind of played in their minds and stuff, you know.”
Nye hopes the Knights will benefit from the experience of playing in the district.
“That’s encouraging,” she said. “Room for improvement. I was thinking, ‘Congratulations, it’s your first district.’ We hope to be back and be stronger in the future.”
Juniors Kiley Cline of Hopewell-Loudon and Kaylie Kingery of Elmwood shot 91 and 104, respectively, in their first district outing.
“We just had a little rough start and a little rough finish,” said Kiley Cline’s father and coach, Joe Cline. “A couple of big numbers really hurt us. I think she had, off the top of my head, maybe two or three double bogeys and two triples. So, the big scores kind of bit us today.
“She played really well. First time here — that’s good experience for her, and she hit the ball nicely. … A little nerves — it’s a process; that’s what I told her. She expected a lot more and put a little pressure on herself.”
Elmwood’s Kingery chipped in for a birdie on the second hole on her way to a 48 on the front nine before slipping to a 56 on the back while enduring some back pain.
“She’s a good kid, a smart kid,” Royals coach Kyle McKibben said. “I’m looking forward to next year. We’ll see how she can improve. I think the experience of being here will be real valuable for her.”
1, Lima Central Catholic 334. 2, Huron 367. 3, St. Henry 371. 4, Shelby 379. 5, Wayne Trace 383. 6, Edison 384. 7, Otsego 385. 8, Gibsonburg 386. 9, Bellevue 387. 10, Margaretta 395. 11, Wauseon 406. 12, Coldwater 411. 13, Sandusky Perkins 414. 14, Fairview 441. 15, Van Buren 496 (Claire Recker 99, Ali Bishop 125, Charlotte Youngpeter 135, Kendra Odenweller 137).
individual state qualifiers
1, (tie) Kyleigh Dull (Lakota) 71. 2, Sydney Leyerle (Gibsonburg) 76. 3, Kenadie Daeger (Wayne Trace) 84. 4, Grace Miller (Kalida) 85 (won on fourth hole of playoff).