It was the final trip to state for Parkway Central’s Elizabeth Leath. The Colts senior made it a memorable one.
Leath finished second overall in the Class 2 state championship at Twin Hills Country Club in Joplin. She fired a 76, falling by one shot to state champion Mariah Peters, of Blue Springs, in what turned out to be just be a one-day tournament.
The state tournament was shortened to 18 holes when the opening round was canceled because of rain.
“Yeah, that was unfortunate because you always want it to be a two-day event,” Leath said. “I got 10 holes in on the first day before it was stopped. That was good. I had a lot of positive thoughts about the course. To me, it was just another good practice round to prepare myself. It was still good to get on the course even though we didn’t get to finish.”
Colts coach Todd Pannett said playing those holes was helpful.
“She was playing her best golf at the right time,” Pannett said. “We had a great week of work leading up to state and on our practice round on Sunday she was striking it very well … on Monday after nine holes she was 2 over par in a constant light rain; then the heavy rain came and day one was a wash.”
Pannett said they had been preparing for this.
“Our goal, that we set on day two last year at the state tournament, was to be in the final group on day two (this year) with a chance to win it,” Pannett said. “Since it got reduced to an 18-hole tournament, we just wanted to go out and take it one shot at a time. The conditions were brutal, with the winds really up and the course very soggy. We just needed to grind it out and stay focused on the task at hand.”
Still, Leath overcame all the bad conditions. She carded three birdies and ended with the 76. It’s the best score at state ever for a Colt.
“It’s crazy to think about it being the best score. It’s kind of exciting,” Leath said.
Pannett was pleased with how well Leath played.
“I was very, very happy. Here is a kid who has played in the shadows of several very good golfers over the past four years and it was her time to shine,” Pannett said. “I think she has been very underrated. She deserves everything she has gotten. I think there is only a handful, if that, of girls who have worked as hard as she has over the past four years to improve her game.”
The highlight of her high school career came at state, Leath said.
“Walking up 18 is something I will never forget,” Leath said. “I had a good drive. I had a good approach and I got a birdie on a 15-foot putt. I signed my scorecard. My family was there and coach was there.
“All the hard work was there and it paid off.”
Overall, her season was outstanding. She was the medalist in eight of nine conference dual matches. She was the Suburban 12 Conference champion and voted the Conference Player of the Year. She also finished second in the district tournament and was second in the sectional tournament.
“I would say she has been the most productive golfer to ever play here at Central,” Pannett said. “I know they had a few good teams in the 70s. But as an individual, there has not been anyone that has done what she has here. She went to state four years in a row, finishing 36th as a freshmen, 20th as a sophomore, tied for 11th as a junior and second as a senior. That is a pretty successful high school career.
“Away from the course, she is just as successful. She’s a very strong student who is involved with a lot of other things here at Central. She is a very solid and well-rounded young lady who will be very successful in whatever her future plans take her.”