MIDLOTHIAN

If there were any expectations set before the state tournament, the Midlothian High School girls golf team would have exceeded them.

The Lady Panthers currently sit in third place as a team after carding a 321 (+33) Monday after the first day of the UIL Girls' Golf 5A state tournament at White Wing Golf Club in Georgetown.

Grapevine High School leads the way after posting a 305 (+17) with two athletes at the top of the individual standings. Midlothian is only one stroke behind second-place Magnolia.

“Honestly, we came in with no expectations,” first-year Lady Panther head coach Carly Dear said. “We were just here to have fun.”

Although the Lady Panther program is new to the state tournament, standout Jasmine Zhang returned after qualifying last season as a junior. Zhang, who recently signed her National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Tulsa, claimed the 5A Region II title to earn another chance at a state title alongside her teammates.

Zhang posted an even 72 on day one of the two-day tournament. She is currently tied for fourth with two other student-athletes. Gabriella Tomanka, of Grapevine, sits atop the leaderboard after an opening round 69 (-3). Only one stroke separates Zhang from second place, where Magnolia’s Halle Whitney and Tomanka’s teammate Anna Takahashi are tied at 71 (-1).

“Jasmine did not play very good today,” Dear said. “And she’s still in fourth — if that says anything about her game. I’m confident she can come out tomorrow and make a big move.”

Dear’s confidence with her team doesn’t stop with Zhang. She firmly believes her team has a chance at the crown when the tournament ends Tuesday despite this being their first state appearance.

“We didn’t seem nervous,” Dear said. “We had fun. But we also didn’t play our best today. If we play our best (Tuesday), I think we have a shot.”