By ISMAEL RODRIGUEZ JR.
OGALLALA — Third time’s the charm for Harley Hiltibrand.
The Ogallala junior captured her first individual district gold medal and led the Lady Indians to an elusive three-peat at Crandall Creek Golf Club on Monday.
“It’s just crazy,” a smiling Hiltibrand said without taking her eyes off the District C-5 team plaque awarded to the Lady Indians. “I came out hoping to shoot in the high seventies, but shooting a score this low is quite a big deal to me.”
Hiltibrand’s splits of 35 and 36 strokes through two rounds not only carded her a personal best on Crandall Creek’s par-72 course, but stretched the gap between herself and the rest of the field — including Mitchell’s silver medalist Kenzey Kanno, who finished with 77 strokes and a 10-stroke lead ahead of Kimball’s Payton Wise.
“I placed third last year in districts, so winning it this year meant a lot to me,” Hiltibrand said. “It’s honestly exciting and I can’t wait to see what we do at state.”
The Lady Indians as a whole, like Hiltibrand, swept the field of competition in the sort of fashion reserved for a back-to-back Class C-1 state champion.
Ogallala capped off their third consecutive district championship run with a total of 351 — a 45-stroke lead ahead of second-place Bridgeport on Monday.
Their dominant performance relied on the sum of its parts, which led to four of its five golfers finishing within the top 10 individuals. Kaylee Wach carded a 90 for a fifth place tie with Bridgeport’s Kaeli McVicker, while Abigail Crandall and Danielle Nolde each chipped in with 95 strokes apiece to round off the top 10 for the Lady Indians.
Ogallala can now turn their sights to a whopping challenge in a familiar place.
They return to the state tournament for the third consecutive season in search of the prolific three-peat, a feat done by just a few programs in Nebraska prep history.
“I think we have a chance,” last year’s seventh-place state medalist Hiltibrand said. “We have the competitors, but I think we’ll go in with a cool head and just play how we play.”
1, Ogallala, 351. 2, Bridgeport, 396. 3, Mitchell, 400. 4, Valentine, 414. 5, Kimball, 442. 6, Dundy County-Stratton, 495. 7, Gordon-Rushville, 501. 8, Perkins County, 545. 9, Southwest, 555. 10, Bayard, 587. 11, Creek Valley, NTS. 12, Garden County, NTS.
1, Harley Hiltibrand, Ogallala, 71. 2, Kenzey Kanno, Mitchell, 77. 3, Payton Wise, Kimball, 87. 4, Ramsey Ravenscroft, Valentine, 88. 5, Kaylee Wach, Ogallala, 90. 6, Kaeli McVicker, Bridgeport, 90. 7, Brooklyn Briggs, Mitchell, 92. 8, Awnathon McGrath, Bridgeport, 93. 9, Molly Lambert, Bridgeport, 94. T10, Abigail Crandall, Ogallala, 95. T10, Danielle Nolde, Ogallala, 95.