Junior's 1-stroke improvement Tuesday makes difference. Her 92-91–183 ties her for 14th place in Class 1 MSHSAA Championship at Nixa course. First CHS girl to medal in eight years

NIXA, Mo. —In dramatic fashion, having to await the final few players to finish to confirm her achievement, junior Hallie Jones of Chillicothe High School’s golf Lady Hornets earned a medal at the 2019 Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 1 Championship Tuesday, finishing tied for 14th place.

“She had a goal of finishing in the top 15 and made it,” Tim Marsh, first-year CHS team coach, saluted after the scores and standings became official.

The 3-times state qualifier from Chillicothe played more steadily through her second tour of the Fremont Hills Country Club course at Nixa, concluding her final round with a 20-over-par 91 that gave her a 36-holes total of 183.

After she concluded her Tuesday round at about 3 p.m., following a second-straight 8:48 a.m. tee time, Jones had to sit and await what other players with later tee times did in the windy, sunny, cool conditions.

As the others who’d finished a bit above or below her opening-round 92 turned in their cards, Jones’ 41-over-par total kept rising steadily toward the top 15, the cutoff for medaling.

Sitting a couple of positions out of the medal ranks for about 90 minutes, finally, a couple of players who’d been doing reasonably well over their first nine or more holes of the second round and sat above her in the individual standings hit rough patches. As their totals were posted online, Jones climbed to a tie for 16th place – one spot shy of a medal.

Another wait of 20-30 minutes ensued before one of those players’ in-progress score matched Jones’, in relation to par, meaning the Chillicothean was in a tie for 15th place. With only that girl and one other who was a stroke behind with three to play, the odds had shifted in the Lady Hornets’ favor, since those two players would need to play the last three holes in par or below – better than they’d been to that point – to displace Jones.

As it turned out, the girl tied with her did manage to steady and play the last three in 1-over par, but that wasn’t enough. In addition, the player a stroke behind played her last three holes in 2-over to drop farther back.

On top of that, a St. Louis girl who’d been ahead of the Chillicothean after a blazing start wobbled a bit on the last three holes and her final score climbed to 42-over, elevating Jones to 14th place in the final standings.

That meant the current CHS standout had joined the elite list of Lady Hornets golfers who had captured state-tournament medals and earned All-State status. That list had stood stagnant since 2011 when Liz Sivill placed sixth, earning the last of her three medals.

After having a somewhat-uneven first round Monday – carding a birdie on the par-5 13th on only her fourth hole of the tournament, but also having seven double-bogeys, Jones showed her more-customary steady side in Tuesday’s final round.

“She battled the whole way and moved up the leaderboard from (her) day one (position),” recounted Marsh, who described Jones’ medal chase as “a long couple of days with the (windy) weather and course conditions.”

Again teeing off on the course’s back nine at 8:48 a.m., she either parred or bogeyed Nos. 9-13, although that put her strokes behind her first-day pace.

When she matched Monday’s showing on Nos. 14-16, she remained behind her opening-round score through seven holes, but then got a turnaround she needed.

On the par-5 17th, the CHS 11th grader kept her ball in good positions and matched par. Since she’d “doubled” the hole a day earlier, she was back on her low 90s pace, a position she maintained at the turn by again parring the par-4 18th.

Going to the course’s “front nine,” Jones equaled her first day showing on Nos. 1-4, although that meant double-bogeys on the par-4 first and fourth.

The Lady Hornet then played the hole that, effectively, would be the difference between winning a medal and having a heart-rending near-miss.

On Monday, she’d come to the par-3 fifth hole off a “double” on the preceding par-4, hoping to get back in a more-positive frame of mind. Instead, she had her second back-to-back double-bogeys of her day, effectively erasing any chance of breaking 90 for the first round.

Tuesday, holding the same 14-over score through 13 holes she possessed 24 hours earlier, Jones made amends. With three effective swings, she parred the hole and suddenly had a good crack at getting under 90 this time and solidifying her prospects for a medal, if she parlayed that into a strong finish.

Her chances for an 89 or better quickly faded when she double-bogeyed the par-4 sixth hole and bogeyed the par-5 seventh which she’d parred Monday. With two holes remaining in her season and her medal chances likely hanging by a thread, she strode to the par-4 eighth, another of the par-4s that had bedeviled her with “doubles” throughout the event.

This one didn’t get her, though. Even though she didn’t match par, her five was a 1-swing improvement over Monday. With a par-3 remaining, she had another crack at a 90, a number which projected to put her right around the anticipated cutoff line between medal-winners and non-medal-winners.

When, instead of a second-straight matching of par on the par-3 ninth that was her finishing hole, she settled for a closing four that left her with a 1-shot improvement from her first round, Jones’ prospects were dimmer, but, as it turned out, not extinguished.

In the end, she had a 1-stroke cushion, in terms of medaling. Had she carded matching 92s for a 184, she’d still have tied for 15th place and been in the medal-earning ranks.

As a freshman, in an event shortened to 18 holes by a rainout of the second round, Jones finished tied for 35th place with her single-round total of 97. Last year, as part of CHS’ team qualification for state, she carded a 199 for 36 holes, leaving her in 34th place individually.

Interestingly, Jones shared 14th place at state with Abby Boyer of Kirksville, who had topped her by four or five shots over 18 holes in both this year’s Chillicothe Invitational tourney and both the district and sectional tournaments. Boyer was four shots ahead of the CHS player after Monday’s action and still was several strokes ahead of her as the KHS player’s second round wound down, but she had difficulty with the last several holes and ended her second round with a 95 that left her overall total identical to Jones’.

Just ahead of Jones in 13th was Emily Long of Maryville, who the Lady Hornet topped for the Midland Empire Conference individual championship last month. Long, scoring steadily like Jones, posted a 2-days total of 89-90–189, four shots better.

The repeat individual champion was Kayla Pfitzner of runaway team champion Springfield Catholic. She shot 2-over par each day for a 5-shots margin over runnerup and teammate Reagan Zibilski. Pfitzner’s sister took fourth.

Among the area participants who competed at Nixa, first-time qualifier Makenna Campbell of Southwest Livingston had a couple of challenging days. She posted rounds of 120-126 for a 246 that left her 79th among the 90 players.

Brookfield’s duo –  Laken Sattman and Demi Downey – posted top-45 showings, Sattman’s 201 leaving her 32nd by herself and Downey’s 214 sharing 44th with three others.