Birds of a feather

Emma Spencer, left, has competed in the KHSAA state championship every year of her high school career, while Great Crossing senior teammate Rylea Marcum has qualified every year since she was in sixth grade, with a pair of third-place finishes.

Tuesday’s start of the KHSAA golf state championships at Bowling Green Country Club represents the end of an amazing era for two county competitors.

Rylea Marcum and Emma Spencer, both seniors, will wear Great Crossing colors in the marquee event for the first time after representing Scott County in previous competition.

For Marcum, who will play at Western Kentucky University next year, it is her astonishing seventh consecutive trip to the state meet. She has qualified every year since sixth grade, finishing in a tie for third place as a freshman in 2016 and third outright last season.

Two years ago, Marcum finished 12th in the field, but her score along with Spencer’s second day 81 — eight shots lower than her previous score — staked Scott County to a best-ever runner-up finish behind Sacred Heart.

Scott County qualified as a team in Marcum and Spencer’s freshman, sophomore and junior seasons.

Multiple factors — reassignment to a loaded region that included Lexington Christian and Madison Central, plus a change that limited each region’s total of qualifying teams from two to one — prevented GCHS from keeping that streak alive in its inaugural season.

Another new rule expanded the number of individuals from non-qualifying teams earning state invitations to seven from each region, however. That opened the door for both Marcum (72) and Spencer (81) to earn bids with their region score from Keene Trace in Nicholasville.

Marcum will tee off at 8:39 a.m. Central time along with another co-favorite, Mattie Neeley of Madison Central, and Jessica Stephens of McCracken County. Spencer goes out at 12:06 p.m. with Grace Walker from Christian Academy-Louisville and Emilie Bertram of Pendleton Academy. Both groups will tee off from the first hole.

Laney Frye of LCA is the defending state individual champion. Other players to watch in the field include Faith Martin of South Warren, Hannah Hall of Walton-Verona, Kate Hanni of Ashland Blazer, Olivia Hensley of Boyd County, Abbie Lee of Glasgow and Margaret Butts of St. Mary.

The 36-hole tournament concludes Wednesday. No local players are qualified for the boys’ tournament, which will be held at the same course Friday and Saturday.

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

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