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Clearfield edges Lady Mounties for second at Mountain League tourney
Friday, October 5, 2012
By Jon Christoff Sports Writer
PHILIPSBURG - Clearfield girls golf coach Chad Gearhart knew that Bellefonte was the class of the Mountain League entering Thursday's end-of-season tournament at the Philipsburg Elks Lodge & Country Club.
Philipsburg-Osceola head coach Larry Kolbe knew it, too, and the Lady Raiders did nothing to steer either coach wrong of their assessment.
All of Bellefonte's four players had scores of 100 or lower in capturing the league title, while no other player participating in the event broke 100.
The Lady Raiders finished with a 275, while Clearfield (336), P-O (341) and Penns Valley (382) rounded out the field.
"We knew Bellefonte was the strongest team this year," said Gearhart. "They went undefeated, and we were trying to stay as close as we could to them. The way my girls played, I couldn't be happier with how they did.
"This was definitely a new year for a lot of them, and we gained a lot of experience throughout this year. I'm hoping we can continue this into next year.
Kolbe's squad has battled to second-place finishes behind the Lady Raiders all year, so it didn't come as a surprise to him that Bellefonte won by 61 strokes.
"Bellefonte has played that way all year, and they are tough," Kolbe said. "Then there's us and Clearfield and we play fairly even, I think. Penns Valley is getting better, too. We're only a four-team league, but Bellefonte was the class of the league.
"We came close a couple of times, but we didn't quite get over the top against them."
While the Lady Raiders were the class of the tournament, a battle broke out between Gearhart's Lady Bison and Kolbe's Lady Mounties.
Clearfield hadn't scored better than the hosts all season until finishing five strokes better than P-O on Thursday.
"We never beat P-O all season," Gearhart said. "For us to go there and put up the score we did, I'm very happy with how the girls played."
The Lady Bison and Lady Mounties each have a lone senior listed on their rosters, so this year's championship tournament could be a precursor of things to come.
P-O's top finisher was Haley Frank, who started the day outside of Kolbe's top two golfers.
Frank finished the day with a 109, while Abby Showers (115) and Katie Burns (117) also had their scores counted toward the team total.
"(Haley) is a first-year player - and we have a few of those - and we have some kids with potential, and she's one of them," said Kolbe. "We only have one senior (Jessie Burns). I'm pleased with what she did today.
"With only losing the one player, it's up to the kids to play in the summer. If we do that, then we can be pretty good next year."
The Lady Bison were led once more by Jordan Lehman, who carded a 106.
Lehman struggled in the early going and on the greens, but Gearhart has been continually impressed with her play.
"I saw that right off the bat that one hit out of bounds," Gearhart said. "I talked to her as the round was going and she was having a little problem with green speeds today. She was hitting the drives and the approach shots that she should, but she was having trouble on the putting greens that we all have sometimes."
What gave Clearfield the slim second-place finish over the Lady Mounties was the improved play of Alexis Stephenson.
Stephenson carded a season-best 110, while Summer Stephenson's 120 also counted.
Natalie Lemmo capped the Lady Bison who participated in the event with a 122.
"Alexis had a great round today," said Gearhart. "That is her best two 9s put together for the year. I can't believe how well all the first-year girls are turning out this year. They've already exceeded my expectations.
"I'm hoping they come to the club this summer, and I'm going to try to do another golf summer camp and try to get them out. Hopefully, we can build on this season and give Bellefonte a real run next year."
Like Gearhart, Kolbe is hopeful that his youthful squad will see how far they've come and go the extra mile in the offseason to give the Lady Raiders a run for their money.
"I thought the kids played well today, and they have played well all year," said Kolbe. "You never know how kids are going to do from day to day.
"We just wanted to do the best we could do. The kids are in and out all year - some play volleyball, some play soccer - so, we haven't had the same lineup twice this year. Our goal was to do the best we could and, basically, I thought we did that today. Honestly, our goal (this year) was to be competitive and get better, and I think we accomplished those goals."
The championship was the last scheduled event for both teams.
P-O's Jessie Burns, who carded a 121, qualified for the District 6 tournament, which is set for Thursday and Friday.
Gearhart's team will combine with the boys' squad to play a Ryder Cup within the team at the Clearfield-Curwensville Country Club.

Alyssa Sinclair 88, Ashley Morris 90, Emily Sinclair 97. Others: Katelyn Vogel 100.
Jordan Lehman 106, Alexis Stephenson 110, Summer Stephenson 120. Others: Natalie Lemmo 122.
Haley Frank 109, Abby Showers 115, Katie Burns 117. Others: Jessie Burns 121.
Penns Valley-382
Olivia Miller 116, Hannah Dunn 131, Macy Kessinger 135. Others: Rachel Sterner 143.
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