MANCHESTER — Although she shaved four strokes off her score from the previous day, Polk County’s Lydia Triplett wasn’t expecting to earn her second straight TSSAA All-State honor, but she did.
“After yesterday (Tuesday’s 86), I didn’t think I had a chance to do anything, but I guess everybody else had trouble as well,” Triplett remarked in a phone interview Wednesday evening. After shooting a pair of 43s in the opening round of the TSSAA Class A-AA State Golf Championship, she carded another 43 on her first nine holes Wednesday before coming in with a 39 to round out her 36-hole tally.
After a sixth-place finish at the 2011 state tournament, Triplett’s 168 tied her with Signal Mountain’s Bethany Burns, Kaitlin Cartwright of Macon County, and Milan’s Morgan Stuckey for the 10th and final All-State spot. She was tied for 14th after the first 18 holes.
Polk County’s Evan Ball improved his first day score from a 79 to a 4-over-par 76 Wednesday for a 155, which tied him for 15th place with Zach Polston of Macon County in the boys event. The senior shot a 160 to earn a 22nd place finish at last year’s state tournament.
Following her teammates’ example, Lady Wildcat junior Emily Massengill also showed improvement in the final round, carding a 103, which was four strokes better than her opening round. Her 210 total placed her 50th in her first state tournament.
A double-par “hiccup” in each round cost Triplett a shot at a higher finish, carding an 8 on the 14th hole Tuesday and on the 13th Wednesday.
“I started out fine on Day 1 with three pars and a bogey,” she said. “The bogey really didn’t bother me that much, but for some reason I made a mental mistake on the next hole and I couldn’t seem to pull it together. I think I was trying to be too technical with my swing and not focusing on the right things.”
“On Day 2 I had trouble from the start,” Triplett assessed. “I hit into the water on the first hole and then on 13 had another hiccup by going into the woods. It was a roller coaster for the rest of the back nine.”
After making the turn, the senior Lady Wildcat settled down with a half dozen pars and a trio of bogeys on the final nine holes.
While Triplett’s total was 22 strokes behind state champion Sophia Schubert, the CAK junior was the only golfer in the girls’ field to break par, plus post two rounds in the 70s. She shot a 1-under 71 in the opening round and added a 3-over 75 on Wednesday at the WillowBrook course.
“Sophia’s a really good golfer,” Triplett praised. “Nobody was going to catch her.”
Haley Davidson of Signal Mountain and Page’s Jessica Zweifel tied for second, 15 strokes back at 161. “I was only seven strokes out of second place,” commented Triplett, who was playing in her third TSSAA state tournament in four years.
Ball finished just four strokes shy of a Top 10 finish and an all-state award, plus was only nine strokes off the state championship pace set by Sydney Chung of Madison, who had a 75-71 — 146.
After shooting 37-42 for a 79 on Tuesday, Ball cut two strokes off his front nine score with a 1-under 35 with a trio of birdies and a pair of bogeys on his scorecard. Playing in his third straight state tournament, he bettered his back nine by a stroke, with a 41 for his 76 tally in the final round.