Tuesday afternoon in Elizabeth, W.Va the spotlight on the links shines solely on the ladies.
Teeing off at 10:50 a.m., the West Virginia High School Girls Invitational Golf Championship gets underway for the fifth year in a row at Mingo Bottom Golf Club.
Over 80 girls are scheduled to compete in this year’s event which has featured several W.Va. Junior Amateur champions and nail-biting finishes over it’s brief history.
Olivia Hart from Hurricane won the tournament by two strokes in 2018, but each of the last three years, the margin of victory has been only one shot.
Taylor Sargent from Cabell Midland is the defending champion and she is also the only two-time champion, having won in 2019. Molly McLean from Parkersburg was victorious in 2020.
Westside junior Kerri-Anne Cook has been knocking on the door of victory each of her two visits to Mingo Bottom.
Cook, who is the reigning two-time Player of the Year on the Callaway Junior Tour, finished runner-up as a freshman and fifth last year in her sophomore campaign.
The junior phenom will again be in the feature pairing alongside Sargent, Savannah Hawkins from Hurricane and Emerson Simons from Roane County.
Hawkins, also a junior, is the reigning W.Va. Jr. Amateur champion, the title Cook held back in 2021.
Alley Denny from Woodrow Wilson will be making her third appearance at Mingo Bottom and she has been playing solid golf heading into the big event Tuesday.
“I am a lot stronger and I am hitting the ball about 20 yards farther now. It is a longer course, so hopefully that will help me cut some strokes down,” Denny said. “I also feel more confident this year because I have been practicing more.”
While Denny, like all of the other competitors, wants to play well, one of the most appealing factors for the tournament does not happen just on the links.
“I just like meeting all of the girls there,” Denny said, smiling. “It feels really special and I am really excited to play.”
Sophomore Maggie Asbury from Liberty is still a newcomer to the the game of golf and she will be making her first appearance at the girl’s state tournament this year.
“The first practice I had last year as a freshman was the first time I had ever picked up a golf club,” Asbury said.
Asbury echoed Denny’s words when asked about her first trip to Mingo Bottom, but she also has her eyes on developing her game.
“I am really excited. I think it is a great opportunity for me and all of the girls. I think it will be great to be around people that understand what it is like to golf as a girl,” Asbury said. “I also want to see where I am in relation to all of the other girls. It is kind of hard to tell playing against the boys.”
Local players scheduled to attend the tournament are Ava Arbogast and Maddie Lucas (Liberty), Bethany Rosiek (Oak Hill) and Kanyon Paynter (Westside), along with Kinleigh Bradley, Anna Frasher, Madison McMillion, Katherine Viars, and Madison Noonkester from James Monroe.
Nicholas County will be represented by Rylee Johnson and Anastin Hornsby.
Tee times for Tuesday and alphabetical groupings can be found at the link below.