The best in Nebraska high school girls golf — topped by a deep sophomore class — are a year older and much more decorated than when last season ended in a cold October rainout.
Kate Strickland from Lincoln Southwest became the youngest winner of the Nebraska women’s match-play championship last month. In that tournament, 11 of the 16 who reached match play are still in high school.
Another sophomore, Kaitlyn Hanna from Omaha Westside — last year’s co-champion in Class A — captured the Nebraska Girls Amateur. She also was on the Four-State team that went undefeated against teams from Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.
Also back from the Four-State team are senior Danica Badura from Aurora, sophomore Baylee Steele from North Platte and freshman Nicole Kolbas from Lincoln Pius X. Badura, a South Dakota pledge, was runner-up in the Nebraska Women’s Amateur in June. Steele was fifth and Kolbas eighth.
Other sophomores to watch include Neely Adler of Southwest, Adelia Maiyo of Lincoln Southeast, Emily Karmazin of Elkhorn, Katie Ruge of Millard North and Emily Krzyzanowski of Scottsbluff.
Badura heads a senior class that includes Class B third-place finisher Lauren Goertz of Omaha Duchesne and Class C co-champion Harley Hiltebrand of Ogallala.
Strickland and Hanna dueled Thursday in the first meet of the season.
At the Lincoln East Invitational, Strickland won with a 4-under 70 at Holmes Golf Course and Hanna was second with a 72.
Goertz started her season by winning the Papillion-La Vista Invitational at Miracle Hill in Omaha. She was one of six golfers to shoot 76s or better. Behind her were Karmazin (74), Ruge (74), Kolbas (75), freshman Lauren Carr of Pius (76) and senior Jazmine Taylor of Millard North (76).
Ruge and Taylor led the Mustangs to a four-golfer score of 323 to win the tournament by 16 strokes over four-time defending Class B champ Omaha Duchesne and Papio.
Southwest, the defending Class A champ, cruised to a 39-stroke win at the East meet. Senior Brynn Sundquist was fourth for the Silver Hawks with an 81, Adler was sixth with an 85 and junior Sadie Steele eighth with an 88 as their four-golfer total was 324.
Other sophomores in the top 10 were third-place Maiyo (77), fifth-place Ansley Sothan of Southeast (84) and Kaitlyn Dumler of Lincoln East (88).
In each of the three NSAA classes this fall, two of last year’s top three finishers from last year’s weather-shortened state tournaments are back: Co-champ Hanna and third-place Strickland in Class A, runner-up Badura and third-place Goertz in Class B and co-champ Hiltebrand and third-place Elizabeth Mestl of Heartland, who’s a sophomore, in Class C.
Papillion-La Vista Invitational
At Miracle Hill
Team scoring: Millard North 323, Omaha Duchesne 339, Papillion-La Vista 339, Gering 347, Lincoln Pius X 350, Omaha Marian 363, Elkhorn 386, Millard West 389, Fremont 393, Papio South 415, Norfolk 436, Bellevue West 441, Omaha Burke 489.
1, Lauren Goertz, Duchesne, 73. 2, Emily Karmazin, Elkhorn, 74. 3, Katie Ruge, MN, 74. 4, Nicole Kolbas, Pius, 75. 5, Lauren Carr, Pius, 76. 6, Jazmine Taylor, MN, 76. 7, Madi Schlaepfer, Gering, 80. 8, Sydney Taake, Papio, 80. 9, Ava Matthies, Marian, 81. 10, Elly Speece, Papio, 82.
Lincoln East Invitational
Team scoring: Lincoln Southwest 324, Lincoln East 363, Lincoln Southeast 370, Omaha Westside 370, Elkhorn South 372, Beatrice 398, Millard South 440, Lincoln Northeast 459, Omaha Skutt 469, Lincoln North Star 480.
1, Kate Strickland, LSW, 70. 2, Kaitlyn Hanna, Westside, 72. 3, Adelia Maiyo, LSE, 77. 4, Brynn Sundquist, LSW, 81. 5, 5, Ansley Sothan, LSE, 84. 6, Neely Adler, LSW, 85. 7, Isabel Knutson, East, 85. 8, Sadie Steele, LSW, 88. 9, Kaitlyn Dumler, East, 88. 10, Ellen Payne, Elkhorn South, 89.