By Eric Wade
Nevada Daily Mail
"When I found out that Sectionals was here, I was really excited." Nevada High School sophomore Hannah Householder knew the significance right from the start when she learned that she would be the only Nevada Lady Tigers representative at this year's Class 1, Sectional 2 tournament at Frank E. Peters Municipal Golf Course.
Not only does Householder get to claim that distinction this year, but she has also laid claim to the distinction of being the only Nevada High School girls' golfer ever to play in a postseason tournament on their home course. Since Nevada High School opened the sport of golf to girls in the mid-1970s, head coach Brian Leonard said there is no record of Nevada ever hosting a postseason tournament.
"To officially know, it would be back in Coach Snyder's era. ... For girls, I don't think we've ever hosted here," he said. "I don't think we've ever hosted a girls' Sectionals here."
At the beginning of the season, Leonard knew right from the start that he wanted to get a chance to host a postseason tournament, but didn't expect that it would be Sectionals. "I instantly contacted the AD at Bolivar and said, 'Put Nevada in for Districts or Sectionals, I don't care,'" Leonard said.
When Bolivar's course turned out to be in use on both the District and Sectional tournament dates, Bolivar athletic director Todd Schrader announced that Nevada would host the Sectional tournament. That news came as both a surprise and a significant source of excitement for both Leonard and his team.
"We were at Carthage, I believe, and I was just like, 'No way, no way,'" Leonard said. "I was very pleased."
Even as just a sophomore, Householder already has playoff experience. Last year, she was able to advance to the Sectional tournament, but fell just short of a trip to the State Championship.
"I went to Sectionals last year and the cut to go to state was 100 and I shot a 104," Householder said. "I was so close last year as a freshman, so I just tried to work really hard this year and I really thought I could make it."
Householder's goal all season long was to get her scores down under 90 and Leonard said if she does that, she should have a good chance at making her first trip to the State Championship this year. Before that happens, however, Householder openly admitted there are some things she has had to work on and improve.
"What I really have to work on is just slowing down, focusing, you know, not trying to go too fast," Householder said. "The mental side of it, definitely."
That mental aspect of the game has definite potential to become an issue this year as Householder will be facing some of the state's toughest competition when the Sectional tournament kicks off on Monday. Megan Keck, of Cole Camp, and Mount Vernon's Ashley Childers will both be competing right alongside Householder and could easily be contenders for an individual state championship.
"They will possibly be one of the State Champions, if everything goes like they should. They'll both get through here, but they will probably be at least top five in the State Championship," Leonard said of Childers and Keck. "They both shot 75 here."
Despite the tough competition, however, both Leonard and Householder will come into the tournament with a high level of confidence. "I have that confidence this year as long as I just keep focusing on the goal," Householder said.
"I'd love to see about 88 or an 89," Leonard added. "If she can shoot a 46-44 here and even 45-44, she's very capable of it."
After looking at the scores from both districts that will be involved in the tournament, Leonard amended his original estimate of what it should take to advance to the State Championship. At the end of the Class 1, District 4 tournament, Leonard suspected that a 98 would advance, but the other scores forced him to lower that estimate to 95 or 96.
Spectators are invited to attend this year's tournament at Frank E. Peters Municipal Golf Course, but a number of very strict rules will be administered. According to a press release, spectators will be subject to a $5 entry fee and will not be permitted to use a golf cart without written verification from Nevada High School of a physical disability. All fees associated with renting a cart are the responsibility of the person requesting the cart.
Spectators will be confined to cart paths only and are required to stay a minimum of 20 yards behind the last player in each group. No communication of any kind with players will be permitted during the tournament, but cheering or clapping following a good shot will be permitted.
All spectators will be informed that there is an assumed right when on the course and that failure to abide by the set rules will result in one warning, followed by removal from the course on the second offense. Lack of cooperation on the part of spectators could result in athlete disqualification.
Cell phone usage will be prohibited except in a texting capacity and all spectators who are granted the use of a cart must be 16 years of age or older to drive the cart.
The 50 athletes competing in this year's tournament will be divided into 13 groups and will tee off in 10-minute intervals on the first and 10th holes, starting at 9 a.m. A confident and highly motivated Householder is slated to tee off on Hole No. 1 with Cole Camp's Taylor Eckoff, Seneca's Elyssa Esposito and Stover's Jensen Bauer at 9:10 a.m.
"It motivates me a lot more just because I have higher expectations for myself just because it is my home course," Householder said.