Lima Central Catholic made history last year after winning its third straight Division II golf title last year but the Thunderbirds are not ready to stop there as this year’s squad eyes an unprecedented fourth straight title when they travel to Columbus to play at state beginning Friday.
“We may have made history but there is always history to be made,” LCC head coach Dan Reinicke said. “That is a challenge but we don’t want to stop at three and it would be nice to go for four. We are going to go down and they are going to do the best they can and if four happens then good but they are going to give it their all and try to make it four.”
Many might have thought making state, much less having a shot at winning state, went away when the Mulcahy twins, Mary Kelly and Erin, graduated but Reinicke and the team were more than confident they could make a return trip to Columbus.
“Listen, I felt good about this team last year,” Reinicke said. “I told the girls at the banquet last year if I just took the averages of the girls who were coming back we would have finished fourth at state last year so I felt we had a good chance to come back this year.
“We still had a lot of work. We still had to work and perform and things to do and I think they did everything they needed to do. I don’t think they felt they played as well as they could have at sectionals and districts and we still did okay so we get another chance and that is what we want, just another chance to go back and try to bring home another win.”
Led by junior Bridget Mulcahy and four seniors, Emma Mayers, Carlie VanMeter, Oliva Garver and Leiahnni Smith, the Thunderbirds carded a 343 at districts last week to qualify for state.
This year’s squad wanted to prove it had what it took to make it back to Columbus and Reinicke said that began in the offseason with a lot of practice and competing in the Lima Junior Golf Association events.
Once the season began, the Thunderbirds showed that offseason work had paid off. The only losses the team had were to Division I teams.
“We progressed and we did what we were supposed to do,” Reinicke said. “I think the girls worked real hard to get better all season and that is all I can ask. Listen, they worked so hard. They wanted to go back and show that it wasn’t just the twins and it took all of us.”
The top three girls, Bridget Mulcahy, Mayers and VanMeter were members of last year’s three-peat and Garner and Smith, while not competing at state last year, were on the team the last four and saw what it took to compete at the elite level.
Reinicke said that both Smith and Garver stepped up their games this year.
“Even though those girls had not participated in state the last couple of years the way I rotated in the lineup these girls were playing in the same big tournaments the last two or three years,” Reinicke said. “They played against New Albany. They played against Lexington and the teams we had to beat in Division II so they have played them, so they had some tournament experience. It was just a matter of getting better and getting the confidence and I think they’ve got that.”
Reinicke added that Mulcahy, Mayers and VanMeter have been the leaders on the team and continued pretty much from where they left off.
“They are definitely the leaders,” Reinicke said. “This is Emma’s fourth year and on the state winning team the last three years. Bridget has been on the state-winning team the last three years and Carlie was not there her freshman year but has been on the team and on the state-winning team that last three years.
“The others see how hard they have worked and nobody who leads gets out and leads by yelling. They lead by the fact that they get down there and worked hard and everyone sees they work hard. All of them work hard. They know what they need to do. My program hasn’t changed in four years. They pretty much know what my practice regiment is and how we practice and they go out there and how we do it.”
Reinicke said this team was motivated to get back and admits maybe a little pressure as well.
“They have been there and wanted to do it again,” Reinicke said. “Was there some pressure? Yes, there was some pressure because the twins weren’t there but still, their scores were not that far off from what they were when the twins were here. They were maybe 10 strokes higher.”
Because Reinicke has a veteran team it is preparation as usual for the Thunderbirds, but the LCC head coach admits there is always going to be nerves when they tee off Friday.
“Oh I’m sure there are nerves but they have been down this road,” Reinicke said. “Experience helps those nerves and there is no doubt about that. They have all played in some of the bigger tournaments where we face some of the better teams in state. But when we start on Friday there will still be nerves, but it helps we have been there before.”