By ROCKY STANLEY

The Daily Independent

It’s rare for The Daily Independent All-Area golf team to feature a high school state champion.

Boyd County’s senior Olivia Hensley is an exception — thanks to her exceptional senior season. She capped it by shooting 2-under par at Bowling Green Country Club to win the state tournament going away.

Hensley also led Boyd County to its second consecutive Region 12 team title — the first two in program history.

“It meant everything to me, all the hard work we put in, and I put in, this past year,” Hensley said. “It’s been a record year for everybody on the team. We did things we were only dreaming of a few years ago, especially winning the region twice and me winning state.”

The Morehead State University signee bagged her fourth The Daily Independent Girls All-Area Player of the Year honor. She shared it in 2017 and ’18 with Kate Hanni. The Ashland junior joined Hensley as first team All-Staters for the second consecutive year.

Hensley said she will miss their battles. Hanni edged her for the regional title this season in a playoff, providing added incentive for Hensley on the state tournament stage.

“Like I’ve said before, Kate is such good competition,” Hensley said. “I feel we push each other a lot. We’re both on the same level. We’ve been playing together in tournaments, oh gosh, since I was like in sixth grade. I respect her a lot, as well as some other people around the state. These junior golf and high school tournaments, it’s been such a big part of my life.”

Hensley had a huge high school season, winning seven tournaments. She said she felt an extra sense of gratitude on Thanksgiving Day.

“Just to everybody that’s been along with me on this journey,” she said. “It means so much to me. I couldn’t be more thankful. God blessed me to be able to play this game and it’s just been a great thing.”

Her father and coach Scott Hensley repeats as Girls All-Area Coach of the Year. The Lady Lions’ 356 regional score at tough Hidden Cove Golf Course was the tournament’s best since Rowan County’s 352 at Eagle Trace in 2015.

“It was a great year,” Boyd County’s coach said. “Those kids are tremendous workers. I would also like to throw some appreciation to the parents and school for their support.”

Along with a regional repeat, Boyd County set a goal of making it into the new Kentucky Golf Coaches Association All-State Championship in Lexington.

“When it came out, they said the top 15 teams would qualify,” Scott Hensley said. “We went in I think as the 14th team and finished 12th. So we did well. It was a banner year. Of course, with Olivia graduating I guess it’s a sentimental year.”

The dad/coach said he felt privileged to be along for the ride that culminated with Olivia’s state championship.

“It’s something I will never forget,” Scott Hensley said. “Olivia’s a great kid, hard worker, kind, soft-spoken and big-hearted. She got the job done and deserved it.”

Boyd County also landed senior Emily Brown, junior Adie Caldwell and seventh-grader Morgan Kennedy on the All-Area team.

“To have four make it, and a fifth (Kristen Ramey) on honorable mention, that’s awesome,” their coach said. “They love the game, and it shows by how much they put into it.”

Brown, a repeat selection, shot 90 at regionals and Kennedy was the Lady Lions’ third finisher with her round of 94.

Ashland’s Hanni finished fifth on the All-State points list, two spots behind Hensley.

“With Olivia and Kate both being top five players in the state, that’s huge,” Scott Hensley said. “Both tore it up. They had banner years.”

At regionals, both players produced rounds of 72 — one shot off the tournament record. Hanni made two crucial putts on No. 18. The first helped offset a tee shot that found the ravine, then she sank a 10-footer there in the playoff.

The two players were also part of a three-way tie for fifth in the All-State event.

Ashland’s Carley Cullop, a state tournament qualifier, joined Hanni on the All-Area team.

Paintsville eighth-grader Isabella Cristy was Region 11 medalist with a round of 75. Other state qualifiers among the All-Area players included Bre Boggs (West Carter), Tessa Leibee (Russell) and Lauren Nolty (East Carter).

Rounding out the honorary team were Morgan Farmer (Morgan County), Cambria Burke (Greenup County), Zoe Castle (Johnson Central) and Sara Shay (Rowan County).

Lewis County sophomore Logan Liles and Greenup County coach Brad Stultz received top honors on the boys team.

Liles enjoyed a strong season leading up to regionals. He won a handful of titles on his way to 23rd on the All-State points.

Lewis County assistant coach John Liles said he used to play a fair amount of golf with his son, but not as much since “Logan beat me when he was in sixth grade. He averaged 73 or 74 this season.”

In September, Liles was named the Midway University/KHSAA Male Golf Student-Athlete of the Year.

One of his highlights came in the Battle at the Bridge, a 15-team event at Old Bridge Golf Club in Danville. Liles took medalist honors with a 5-under 67. Kentucky Mr. Golf Jay Nimmo of Marshall County tied for fourth at 2-under.

“It kind of made me realize I can play with those upper-level guys,” Liles said.

He also won the Ashland Invitational at Bellefonte Country Club, Rowan County Invitational at Eagle Trace and Eastern Kentucky Conference tournament. Liles shot 3-under 69 at Eagle Trace, finishing his round with four consecutive birdies.

“I think had six sixth places, too,” he said. “It seemed like I was either first or sixth.”

After qualifying for the state tournament as an eighth-grader and freshman, Liles missed out this season. He fell short in a regional playoff at Mount Sterling after shooting 79.

Stultz, the All-Area Coach of the Year, piloted Greenup County to third place at regionals behind Montgomery County and Mason County.

“It was my seventh year coaching and I had the same team the last five years,” Stultz said.

Seniors Drew Stultz and Brett Bentley, along with sophomore Dylan Stultz, all made it through the regional playoff to get to Bowling Green.

“It was fun watching them fulfill a dream of playing in the state tournament,” Brad said. “The regional was stressful but fun. Those guys work hard, they always did.”

Bentley signed with Shawnee State, while Drew Stultz hasn’t decided.

Greenup County played a busy and challenging schedule.

“We only had one weekend off from tournaments,” the coach said. “Drew was second in three tournaments and under par four times. Dylan got second in our tournament at Hidden Cove. Brett’s been third or fourth.”

Brad Stultz said the most exciting day outside of regionals came when his sons both birdied No. 18 at Eagle Trace on Labor Day to break par.

“Drew’s was about a 20-footer,” Brad said.

Ashland’s Connor Calhoun led area golfers in the Region 12 Tournament with a 76 as part of his solid season. He was 32nd on the All-State points list.

Also chosen to the All-Area Team were West Carter’s Nick James and Tyson Webb; Russell’s Gunner Cassity; East Carter’s Isaac Walker; Rowan County’s Christian Parker; Raceland’s Caleb West; and Johnson Central’s Tanner Castle and Trey Layne.        

(606) 326-2671 |

rstanley@dailyindependent.com

BOYS SELECTIONS

Brett Bentley (Greenup County)

Connor Calhoun (Ashland)

Gunner Cassity (Russell)

Tanner Castle (Johnson Central)

Nick James (West Carter)

Trey Layne (Johnson Central)

Logan Liles (Lewis County)

Christian Parker (Rowan County)

Drew Stultz (Greenup County)

Dylan Stultz (Greenup County)

Isaac Walker (East Carter)

Tyson Webb (West Carter)

Caleb West (Raceland)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Logan Liles (Lewis County)

COACH OF THE YEAR

Brad Stultz (Greenup County)

Honorable mention: Aaron Adams (Elliott County), Jacob Claar (Fairview), Eli Griffith (Elliott County), Gatlin Griffith (Elliott County), Clayton Ison (Boyd County), John David Montgomery (Lawrence County).

GIRLS SELECTIONS

Breannon Boggs (West Carter)

Emily Brown (Boyd County)

Cambria Burke (Greenup County)

Adie Caldwell (Boyd County)

Zoe Castle (Johnson Central)

Isabella Cristy (Paintsville)

Carley Cullop (Ashland)

Morgan Farmer (Morgan County)

Kate Hanni (Ashland)

Olivia Hensley (Boyd County)

Morgan Kennedy (Boyd County)

Tessa Leibee (Russell)

Laura Nolty (East Carter)

Sara Shay (Rowan County)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Olivia Hensley (Boyd County)

COACH OF THE YEAR

Scott Hensley (Boyd County)

Honorable mention: Darby Chapman (Lawrence County), Kristen Ramey (Boyd County), Langley Sebastian (Ashland), Laney Sexton (Raceland).

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