Emilee Barkley was more nervous than excited Monday at the BCIAA girls individual golf championship.
A Kutztown junior, Barkley knew she had a shot at taking the title because Wilson sophomore Kayla Maletto, the runaway 2020 champ, was out with a hand injury.
“I knew I had some sort of a chance to win,” she said. “I was really nervous because I had never won anything before. I just wanted to play as well as I could.”
Barkley was not at her best until the playoff with Hamburg freshman Erica Gerner. She split the fairway with her drive on the 10th hole at Willow Hollow Golf Course, hit her approach to within 10 feet and drained a birdie putt to win the championship.
“It means a lot to me because I put a lot of hours in,” Barkley said. “I’m really grateful that I got this opportunity. I’ve just worked really hard. I’m going to be very happy to go to my school tomorrow as the county champion.”
Barkley and Gerner tied with 94s at the par-70 course and were the only girls to break 100. A year ago, Maletto matched par as a freshman and beat her Wilson teammate Claire Hill by 16 strokes.
Barkley shot a 96 and won a playoff for fifth place last year. She and Maletto often play together at the Moselem Springs Golf Club, where they’re members.
“I was actually in the match when Kayla injured her wrist,” she said. “I saw her the next week wearing a brace on it. I wasn’t sure if she was going to play today until my coach sent me the tee sheet.”
The scores were generally high, whether it was because the contenders knew Monday might be their only chance to win the title in Maletto’s absence or it was because the tees were back.
Barkley, for example, averaged 91.23 during the regular season. Gerner, though, was one of the few golfers to better her season average, which was 100.
Barkley held a two-shot lead over Gerner and Oley Valley’s Jessica Howard after nine holes. Gerner remained within two strokes through 14 holes and was within one going to 18.
Barkley, playing two groups ahead of Gerner, made an 8-foot putt for bogey. Although Gerner didn’t know it, her 25-foot putt for birdie was to win the title. She left it short and tapped in to force the playoff.
Barkley teed off first in the playoff and drilled it down the middle. She used a pitching wedge from 95 yards to hit a brilliant approach.
Gerner used a 3-wood, like she had done all day, and pulled it into the trees separating the 10th and 11th holes. It took Gerner three shots to reach the fringe, from where she hit a par putt that stopped 6 or 7 feet from the hole.
Barkley quickly lined up her birdie putt and drained it for the victory.
“I knew I just had to two-putt when I got over the ball,” she said. “I had that putt earlier today, so I knew the break.”
It was an impressive showing by Gerner, who couldn’t stop giggling before the playoff.
“My round was up and down,” she said. “After the front nine, I didn’t think I was very good. I was very nervous (for the playoff). This means a lot to me. I’ve been playing for two years.”
Barkley also began playing golf two years ago and now she’s the Berks champ. She overcame a quadruple bogey on the second hole and a triple on 15.
“I was nervous because we had last week free,” she said. “I didn’t compete for a week, so I wasn’t sure how I would do. I put a lot of hours into golf this summer. I have a good swing coach, Andy Miller. He helps a lot and so does my dad (Jason).”
Barkley’s the first Berks champion from Kutztown since Shannon Weber won her third title in 2013 and the third in school history, including Lauren Foulke (2004).
Schuylkill Valley senior Madison Ziska won a playoff for third place. Howard, a sophomore, was fourth, followed by Gov. Mifflin sophomore Sara DeLoretta and Wyomissing sophomore Ashley Baker.
Barkley, Gerner, Ziska and Howard qualified for the PIAA District 3 Class 2A Tournament Oct. 8-9 at Honey Run Golf Club in York.
DeLoretta qualified for the District 3 Class 3A Tournament Oct. 8-9 at Briarwood East Golf Club in York.
Source: Berkshire mont