Stepping up to the challenge

Great Crossing High School girls’ golf is loaded with regional and state championship meet experience from four seniors’ days at Scott County, but the road to the scaled-back KHSAA finals will have less margin for error this season.

It’s technically not “their” tradition, but the Great Crossing High School Warhawks bring substantial history into this inaugural season of girls’ golf.

Four of GCHS’ seven players are seniors, and three were Scott County High School starters in consecutive top-five finishes at the KHSAA state championship. That includes a best-ever runner-up result in 2017.

The coach, Tommy Brummett, also remains the same.

“Really excited for this year and being the inaugural team at Great Crossing,” Brummett said.

There’s wistful excitement about this being the final year of high school golf for Rylea        Marcum.

A mainstay for her teams since middle school, Marcum will be among the favorites to win the individual state title before embarking on the next phase of her career at Western Kentucky University.

“In my opinion, she is the best high school girls’ player in the state,” Brummett said. “There are no weaknesses in her game. She has a great mental toughness and approach. I have seen her grow over the past seven years, and I’m proud of how hard she has worked and improved.”

Marcum has excelled in numerous state and national tournaments throughout the summer. Most notably, she made the cut at the Girls’ Junior PGA Championship in Connecticut.

After missing Great Crossing’ initial match while returning from the AJGA Arnold Palmer Invitational, Marcum went straight to work with a 69 and low medalist honors in the Model Lady Patriot Invitational on Monday.

It has been a busy summer for Marcum’s fellow seniors, Grace Lawler and Emma Spencer, as well. Both attended the Governor’s Scholars Program and are involved in a litany of other activities.

Their best early-season scores — 74 for Lawler, 80 for Spencer — are strong building blocks that bode well for Great Crossing’s team goals.

“They will be getting back into the swing of tournament golf but vital to our success this year, as they are both outstanding golfers who provide competitiveness and consistency to our team,” Brummett said.

Lawler trailed only Marcum at the region meet last fall, while Spencer’s success on the final day was crucial for Scott County in its rally to second at ’17 states.

“Like Grace, she is so well rounded in all aspects, both on the golf course and off,” Brummett said of Spencer. “I love the toughness and competitiveness she brings.”

Lauren Lusby is the final senior. The daughter of GCHS principal Joy Lusby, her commitment to the sport has been evident in a busy summer schedule.

“She has been the most improved since last year,” Brummett said. “Lauren has worked hard and has come in shooting scores in the 80s from summer tournaments, shaving 10 or more strokes off her game.”

The only missing piece from last year’s starting five across town is Katherine Wesley, who graduated.

Three players are in the mix to fill that void, including Marcum’s younger sister, Whitlea.

“She has improved a lot and is a great addition to the team to keep the girls loose and having fun through her jokes and attitude,” Brummett said. “I’m excited to see Whitlea make a big jump this year and really get some good tournament      experience.”

Two freshmen have been in the starting lineup early in the season.

Hope Manning is a transfer from Ohio.

“I expect her to make a big impact on the team in her first year,” Brummett said. “She has good experience and has played quite a bit of golf already for her age, so I expect her to be able to contribute  immediately.”

Madison Kemper is relatively new to the game.

 “She will get her first real dose of tournament golf,” Brummett said. “I love what she brings to the team with her attitude and character. She, like all of the rest of the girls, is so well rounded and such a good student. I know she will make a big impact.”

After playing in a region with northern teams in the past, Great Crossing finds itself in the far more competitive Lexington pod with the likes of Lexington Christian, Madison Central and Paul Laurence Dunbar.

That, along with changes in the KHSAA format, will make it a tougher go in the new colors.

“Our goal still remains to make the state tournament as a team,” Brummett said. “It is unfortunate that only one team from our region will qualify, as four would have an opportunity to win the state down in Bowling Green, and a lot of deserving kids will be left out.

“That being said, we don’t make excuses, and we will still go and compete to the best of our ability.”

Great Crossing girls’ golf

Coach

Tommy Brummett

Seniors

Rylea Marcum

Grace Lawler

Emma Spencer

Lauren Lusby

Junior

Whitlea Marcum

Freshmen

Hope Manning

Madison Kemper 

Regular season schedule

August

10 Dunbar Invitational, Kearney Hill

12 LCA Cup, Keene Trace

31 Gene Hilen Invite, Juniper Hills

September

7 Lexington Catholic Invitational,

Thoroughbred Golf Club

14 Henry Clay Invitational, Lakeside 

The skinny

There are high expectations for a group that features four seniors, including Marcum, one of the top players in the state.  A change in region and qualifying format will make it tough for the girls to continue their tradition as state qualifiers, but GCHS is surely capable. 

Coach’s comment

“Our goal still remains to make the state tournament as a team. On an individual level, Rylea Marcum should be viewed as one of the contenders to win state.”

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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