Central’s annual 14-team golf invitational saw the hosting team fall to Liberty and Liberty North in the team rankings, as the Indians finished third overall and led all local team participants with a score of 421 on Thursday at Moila Country Club.

Liberty was first (365), and Liberty North was the runner-up (383). Other area teams, Maryville (445), Savannah (447), St. Joseph Christian, (450), Lafayette (457), and Benton (466) finished 5th through 9th place, respectively.

In spite of the bronze finish, Central coach Chip Brock expected better from his team even though there were some pleasant surprises.

“I was disappointed. The girls I expected to play better didn’t, and then there were a few surprises so I guess it kind of evened out,” Brock said. “There were a couple girls I didn’t expect that much from who performed, so hopefully some of the better scorers today continue to march along. I’d like to see that.”

Afflicted with sporadic rain and heavy gusts of wind, the weather was an ever-present factor throughout the morning. Racing against a foreboding forecast, the tournament was ultimately able to nearly reach completion, with just a few groups pulled from their final holes due to lightning.

“I was just glad we got it in before it got worse,” Benton coach Gary Belcher said. “I thought the pace of play today was pretty good, I think the girls did a good job of that because they knew the weather would get bad.”

Acknowledging the good and bad performances from his young group, Belcher made clear that you can’t blame Mother Nature for the way you play.

“You just gotta play with the elements. Off the fairway, the grass is pretty slick and tough, and that’s just part of it,” Belcher said. “It’s the same thing for everyone who’s playing though. You just have to overcome whatever obstacle is in your way.”

At the individual level, Liberty North’s Averi Mickelson was the medalist with a score of just 79, six fewer strokes than the runner-up. Maryville’s Emily Long was the leader among area schools, finishing sixth with a score of 92, edging out Lafayette’s Caroline Ruden who finished ninth with a score of 96.

Central’s Ella Brown gave her take on the year so far as they head into the middle part of the season, as well as beyond it.

“I think that we’re stepping up a lot, and the juniors will really have to step up their game if we want to start playing better and placing,” Brown said. “Overall, I think everyone’s probably done pretty good, We’ve been working at a lot of stuff in practice like chipping and driving, and I hope that we all showed that today on the course.”

Levi Smith can be reached

at levi.smith@newspressnow.com.

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