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Hinton battles state field, course

Hinton battles state field, course
Hinton battles state field, course
After hitting an approach on the green on No. 8, North Harrison coach Rob Higdon extends a fist-bump to Lady Cats' senior golfer Hallie Hinton. Photo by Brian Smith

The challenging layout of Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel presented obstacles for the 100 golfers participating in the Indiana High School Athletic Association girls’ golf state final Friday and Saturday.
Making her first appearance at the state meet, North Harrison senior Hallie Hinton came away with a 54th-place finish, shooting a 36-hole score of 31-over par (85-90–175).
‘It was a really tough course,’ Hinton said. ‘I feel that I could have done a little bit better, but the greens killed me. I had way too many three putts.’
Playing in ideal conditions ‘ a slight wind, sunny skies and mild fall temperatures ‘ Hinton was the first on the course during Friday’s play. Prairie View is a course littered with bunkers protecting greens and fairways. Water and tree-lined out-of-bounds areas also become nuisances.
It took Hinton five holes before she could settle in and card a par. On the par-3 15th (starting hole on No. 10), Hinton hit the green off the tee and nearly made a putt rolling from the bottom tier to the top.
Hinton’s best run of play during the tournament came when she made the turn on Friday. Grouped with a foursome, it took a tick more than three hours to complete the first nine.
‘I was fine with the slower pace,’ Hinton said. ‘I slow things down for me to be patient with my next shot and think more about where to hit it.’
The pace steadied out during the next nine. Falling in a zone, Hinton buried a 10-footer for par on Prairie View’s first hole. Another par fell on No. 2.
Then, Hinton carded her lone birdie of the event. Going for the green on the par-5 third hole with her second shot, the approach was center of the fairway with a friendly bounce to the edge of the green. Faced with a 25-foot eagle putt, Hinton rolled her ball a few inches shy of the cup. The tap-in bird moved her to 8-over par through 12 holes at that point.
A nice chip around the green on No. 4 eventually saved another par. On holes 1 through 8 at Prairie View, Hinton played 1-over par on Friday. Trouble came on No. 9 when her second shot splashed in a pond protecting the front of the green. She finished Friday with a triple bogey, sitting at 13-over par (85).
‘I was playing well until that last hole,’ Hinton said. ‘I could have performed better, but golf is a monster of a game. You can’t be perfect.’
Coming back on Saturday, Hinton managed three pars and 11 bogeys to close out her prep golf career on the state’s biggest stage.
‘It was a dream come true,’ Hinton said of competing at state.
She also made two state appearances as a member of the North Harrison girls’ basketball team.
‘I’ve always wanted to be there,’ Hinton said. ‘It’s cool to make state in two sports. All I could do was try my best.’
She said it was an emotional end after Saturday’s round. New rules allowed coaches to advise players on the course, which North Harrison coach Rob Higdon took advantage of at times.
‘Rob was a big help, but he also knows my potential,’ Hinton said. ‘He knows I gave it my best and, of course, we cried together at the end.’
Setting an 18-hole state-final record, Zionsville posted a 299 on Friday to sit 17 strokes ahead prior to the final round. The cushion was plenty for Zionsville, which shot a 321 on Saturday for a two-day total of 620 to earn its first girls’ golf state championship. Westfield (638) was the runner-up followed by defending champ Evansville North (639).
Medalist honors went to Plainfield’s Kayla Benge. She started with a 1-under par 71 followed by a 74 to finish 2-over par (145). The 2015 state champion ‘ Lake Central’s Alexis Miestowski ‘ was the runner-up in the 2017 edition, one stroke behind Benge with a 146. Hadley Walts of Evansville North, the 2015 runner-up, shot 148 for third place.
Benge, a four-year state finalist, went on to also be named the Mental Attitude Award winner by the IHSAA.

Team scores: 1. Zionsville 299-321–620, 2. Westfield 316-322–638, 3. Evansville North 318-321–639, 4. Columbus North 326-324–650, 5. Homestead 332-325–657, 6. Fishers 329-329–658, 7. Carmel 329-333–662, 8. Hamilton Southeastern 330-337–667, 9. Culver Academies 349-338–687, 10. Valparaiso 362-349–711, 11. Lafayette Jefferson 353-360–713, 12. Evansville Memorial 359-361–720, 13. Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger 367-358–725, 14. Bedford North Lawrence 391-367–758, 15. DeKalb 381-380–761.
Individual results: 1. Kayla Benge (Plainfield) 71-74–145, 2. Alexis Miestowski (Lake Central) 72-74–146, 3. Hadley Walts (Ev. North) 71-77–148, 4. Annabelle Pancake (Zionsville) 74-75–149, 5. Danbi Kim (76-74–150).