Leavitt teammates Morghan Dutil, left, and Ruby Haylock tied for first in the girls’ state golf championships in October Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

For the first time in Maine Principals’ Association’s history, girls will compete for individual state titles in all three classes. 

Since 1975, the MPA sanctioned one individual state championship for girls. Like much of the rest of the high school athletics landscape, it altering the plan for this fall due to COVID-19. 

The team state championships and individual state championship normally take place separately over the first two Saturdays of October at Natanis Golf Club in Vassalboro. This year, both tournaments will each take place this weekend, with both of Natanis’ courses being put to good use. 

“I think this a pretty unique year in all of high school athletics,” MPA golf committee chairman and Gorham athletic director Tim Spear said. “We felt like combining the state (team) and individual state championships was the best option to get the most golf season in, knowing we wanted to do that consequence is not the right word but it meant we would have to change up the girls (individual championship), to do that. We thought this year Class A, Class B and Class C will all have a girls individual state champion, which is a great opportunity to recognize more girls, which I think is awesome” 

Monmouth/Hall-Dale coach Don Flannagan, who will have Abby Flannagan and Averi Beaudoin competing Saturday, understands the changes. 

“First of all, I am glad we are able to get something in officially,” Flannagan said. “I felt like we were being squeezed with the pandemic and everything. My thought is whatever we can do to recognize the kids who worked so hard and give them an opportunity to compete at any level.” 

Ruby Haylock of Leavitt, who’s the defending co-girls individual state champion with her teammate Morghan Dutil , is excited for the changes. 

“I think it’s a great opportunity, I mean we are all working hard and we all want to do our best,” said Haylock, who is also the defending Maine Women’s Amateur champion. “Now, more girls are getting recognized for their hard work and the efforts they put not only for their team, but individually.” 

Abby Flannagan of Monmouth/Hall-Dale prepares to tee off during the Mountain Valley Conference golf championships Monday at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Haylock also likes the three classes because that’s what the MPA does for the boys individual state champions. The MPA has been awarding individual state championships for each class since 1987 for Class A and B and 1990 for Class C. Prior to 1987, it was one boys individual title.

In a normal year for the individual state championships, the Tomahawk course would have the boys Class A and B tournaments while Arrowhead would host the Class C boys tournament and the girls tournament all on the same day.

This year, Class A will tee off Friday on Tomahawk. On Saturday, Class B will tee off on Tomahawk and Class C will play Arrowhead. 

Spear said it wasn’t going to be feasible to have Class A and B play Arrowhead on the same day, then have the Class A and B girls who qualified for the individual state championship to return the following day. 

“That’s what it really came down to,” Spear said. “It was just trying to manage the number of golfers and trying to work within the state regulations, we really needed to have (Class) A and B on different days. To put them all on one course, you are talking 100, 120 golfers roughly. We really needed to separate those two.” 

Spear is unsure if this format of handing out three individual state championships for girls will be something the MPA will continue. Spear did say the MPA has looked into combining the team and individual state championships over one weekend prior to the pandemic. 

Spear also hasn’t heard from coaches on the change to the girls individual state championships, but coaches are glad that matches and the state tournaments will take place. 

The MPA decision to do three state championships does take away the chance for the best to compete against the best. 

“That is the downside of the new format, in the summer junior circuit and even some of the women’s events, a lot of the premiere women players at the high school level got to compete against each other,” Flannagan said. “That’s the unfortunate thing that they can’t compete for the school girl title. There is no secret Ruby (Haylock) would be the one to beat, but Morghan Dutil, Lindsay Cote (of Waterville) and Ruth Weeks of Greely all had really good summers. It would be interesting where they all stood in the fall.” 

Haylock, Dutil and Cote will qualify Tuesday when the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference has its state qualifier on Tuesday. Cote is the defending girls Junior Amateur champion. 

Class B might have the most depth. At last year’s tournament, Leavitt coach Harry Haylock felt a lot of the top competitors were from Class B. 

I don’t remember taking a real close look, but I thought most of the girls were playing I recognized, meaning, they were Class B and number two, when you look at the top, you have Ruby, Morghan and I am pretty sure Lindsay was third,” Harry Haylock said. “When you look at all the top tournaments throughout the (summer), it’s usually those three for junior females at the top of the list.” 

Coaches Flannagan and Haylock did say crowning an individual girls champion in each class going forward may entice more girls to play golf knowing they would be competing against other girls in their own class. 

If someone had to go from Class C or even Class A, and they knew they were playing against the best competition in the state, they may be a little more reluctant,” Harry Haylock said. “If they know, ‘Hey this is my competition. This is someone I play with or someone I played against in the regular season and my scores are pretty close,’ it would motivate them to tell their coach ‘Hey, I want to try to qualify.’ As opposed to ‘Hey I don’t want to qualify because I know I don’t have a chance at winning.” 

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