Hart, McCarty impress at UPIKE Invitational

Behind strong efforts from Shawnee State’s Holley Hart and Elijah McCarty, the duo were able to set new standards for themselves and their respective programs as McCarty claimed UPike Fall Invitational All-Tournament honors with a eight-over 152 while Hart set a new school record by shooting the lowest 18-hole round in Shawnee State women’s golf program history with her second-round 76 en route to a 18-over 162 as both players finished fifth and sixth, respectively at the invitational, which was held at Stonecrest Golf Course in Prestonsburg, Ky.

On the women’s side of the spectrum, Hart, who posted the third best round of any player on Sunday with her four-over 76 — sitting just behind Pikeville’s Ellen Kehoe and Boo Newsome, who shot rounds of 74 and 75 on the day to finish 1-2 overall in the tournament field — jumped up seven spots in all after shooting an opening-day 86, which placed the Falmouth, Ky. native in 13th place. Her card of 76 allowed SSU to match its team stroke of 375 on the first day — even without the services of several SSU players, who were fighting illness over the weekend.

Despite the sicknesses, Shawnee State’s Sophia Horn (39-over 183), along with Skylar Sayre and Erika Martin (57-over 201 and 60-over 204) were able to tough out their less than ideal personal conditions en route to allowing Shawnee State to register a team score of 750 for the invitational. Pikeville’s 39-over 615 edged Brenau (Pa.)’s 58-over 634 en route to taking home first place overall in the meet.

“Holley shot an incredible second round and played outstanding on Sunday,” SSU men’s and women’s golf coach Dave Hopkins said. “I’m really proud of the girls for toughing out a result when we could’ve folded when the chips weren’t falling our way. We certainly have different elements to the game of golf that we will need to work on, but it’s nothing that we can’t get better at and chip away at going forward.”

On the men’s side of the spectrum, McCarty, who shot an opening round 82, improved dramatically en route to posting a two-under 70 on the final day of action — which was the best official round in the field by a full three strokes. The sophomore’s efforts in the second round — the best of his career — allowed McCarty to claim UPike Invitational All-Tournament honors as a result.

Behind McCarty, Jordan Hughes and DJ Graham also posted top-10 finishes with their consistent efforts throughout the tournament. Hughes backed up his four-over 76 on the first day with a six-over 78 en route to a 10-over 154, while Graham, after shooting a seven-over 79 in the first round of action, posted a four-over 76 on the second day to nestle in behind Hughes with his 11-over 155 as the Piketon, Ohio native collected a ninth-place finish.

Overall, Shawnee State’s second-round score — a 13-over 301 — actually edged Pikeville by two strokes as UPike shot a 15-over 303. However, the latter’s first-day 302 to SSU’s first-day 309 allowed Pikeville to claim the UPike Invitational, as the host school, by a scant five strokes (605 to 610). Alice Lloyd, who shot a 626 as a unit, came in third.

“On the guys side of the coin, we learned valuable lessons today that will only help us going forward,” Hopkins said. “Like the girls, I’m proud of all of my guys for not giving up despite the various trials and tribulations that our guys had to face. Those situations, I believe, are going to help us down the road and serve us well as we not only compete in our final pair of events in the fall, but also, when we see our conference competition more regularly during the spring.

With the invitational at its end, SSU will turn its attention to its final pair of contests in 2019 — the Mid-South Conference Fall Invitational, which will be held at Gibson Bay Golf Course in Richmond, Ky. — and the SSU-hosted Roger Merb Invitational, which will commence at Elks Country Club. The MSC Fall Invitational will commence on Monday, Oct. 7 and Tuesday, Oct. 8 while the Roger Merb Invitational will be played on Monday, Oct. 14 and Tuesday, Oct. 15.

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