By Russ Green-Sports Editor
When the Richmond Lady Spartans reported for their first practice in early August, coach Murray Dennis did not know what to expect from a group that featured seven new players, and filled gaps left by three graduated seniors – all with post-season tournament experience. When the season ended Tuesday at the Meadow Lake Acres Country Club in New Bloomfield, Richmond missed coming home with a Class 1 state trophy by one spot.
The Lady Spartans finished the two-day, 36-hole tournament with an 823 to take fifth place and edge sixth-place Maryville by three shots. Westminster Christian Academy breezed to the team title with a 669, while Villa Duchesne shot 721 to take second. Sacred Heart shot 743 to take third place, and Mt. Vernon captured the final team trophy with 785.
“I could not be more proud of this group of girls than I am,” Dennis said. “When the season started, I had an idea of what I thought this team might be capable of, but they completely blew those expectations away. What this group was able to do, especially the girls that finished the season as varsity players, was fantastic.”
Richmond shot a 422 Monday, and despite the wind kicking up to make the conditions tougher Tuesday, the Lady Spartans shaved 21 strokes off their first round. Coach Dennis was pleased with his team’s round Monday, and liked the way it focused over the final 18 holes.
“We did a great job on day one, but to bounce back and better that team score by 21, just points to the type of girls I have,” he said. “Coach (Jeff) Southwick was down on day one and watched all of the girls play and he I talked as the girls finished up and were concerned about routines and focus. We discussed with the girls after they all had finished about the importance of sticking with their routines and taking it one shot at a time. The girls took that to heart and you see the results.”
Three freshmen, a sophomore and a senior were all making their first state tournament appearance for Richmond after placing second behind Smithville in districts and second behind Maryville in the sectional tournament.
“I want the girls to really enjoy what they just accomplished and to be extremely proud of what they did this post season,” Dennis said. “They made two trips as a team that I wasn’t sure was possible when the season started, and I don’t think they did as well. But they stuck with it, worked hard all season and had the opportunity to extend the season like all teams would like to do with a trip to state.”