By Kyle Daubs
Hannah Harpster wants to end her high school career on top.
Despite a nagging knee injury towards the end of her junior campaign, Harpster finished as an All-Apollo golfer and a sectional qualifier. But finishing fifth at conference and no state appearance left a sour taste.
Harpster, now healthy, believes that she has what it takes to win the Apollo Conference.
“Honestly, I don’t even remember what I placed last year,” Harpster said. “I know there are a lot of Apollo teams that lost some of their better players. They still have some good players coming up. I’ve been practicing every day fixing what needs to be fixed.”
Harpster carded a 90 to finish fifth, one stroke ahead of Mattoon’s Callan Haldorsen. teammate Stacy Zerbst took seventh with a 98 on the Springfield course.
Kira Wolf, the 2019 Apollo champ, is now at Minnesota, so there appears to be a wide open race towards the top of the conference. Harpster’s main competition will likely be Effingham’s Ava Boehm, who was the runner-up last year.
“My biggest competition will be Ava,” said Harpster. “We go head-to-head together a lot. Going into my senior year, I know that I just have to focus on my next shot and not be upset. Individually, I know I can do good at the Apollo.”
Boehm shot 78 to lead Effingham to the Apollo title last year with a score of 339 while Charleston finished second with a score of 412. However, all of Charleston’s top scorers are back and Harpster sees this team with higher aspirations.
“We can be a strong team,” Harpster said. “We have everyone returning from last year. Everyone has been locked down and focused. They have been practicing all the time and taking everything very serious.”
After winning a regional title as a team, Charleston bottomed out in the sectional, placing ninth. Harpster was a junior on the team that won the IHSA state championship two years ago.
Harpster would like to continue that legacy.
“Right now, we are hopeful we can win another regional,” said Harpster. “We have a great chance with the team we have. I know that some of the coaches are worried we may not have a state tournament or sectionals. I am hoping we can push past it and have nothing cancelled because this team has a good chance of placing top three at Sectionals.”