ARDMORE — When Caroline Goodin and Allison Mee were freshmen, Deer Creek girls golf didn't exactly make opponents nervous.
The team had been in existence for 10 years and didn't qualify for the state tournament once in that time.
But the Antlers broke through that year, finishing fourth, then they followed it up with back-to-back third-place finishes the last two seasons.
Now, as Goodin, Mee and fellow senior Haley Hill prepare to conclude their careers, they're looking for the big trophy.
Deer Creek will be among the favorites at the Class 5A girls state tournament, which tees off at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Dornick Hills Country Club.
“We feel like we've broken through the last couple weeks,” Goodin said. “Everyone's playing really well and pushing each other to play better. We're putting in the extra effort to make sure we get our scores as low as we can get them to win state.”
Deer Creek has been steadily improving this season, especially lately, setting the school record for its best team score in consecutive tournaments. The Antlers' 306 was good for a 12-stroke win over defending 5A champ Duncan at the west regional last week.
Goodin, who has signed with Oklahoma City University, has been at the forefront, winning three of the last four tournaments, including the regional when she shot a 2-under-par 70 at Crimson Creek in El Reno.
“Everybody's going to have a bad hole at Dornick Hills,” she said. “You just have to stay calm, keep your head in it and not get too disappointed. I just want to finish strong and help my team.”
While Goodin and Mee have been varsity players since they were freshmen, Hill is a different story. She moved in from Tallahassee, Fla., for her senior year, but found herself instantly welcomed to the team.
“The girls made me feel very comfortable and at home, which has been nice,” she said. “We're like a family. The transition was as smooth as it could have been because of that.”
Now, the team has come together with the goal of a state championship in sight.
““I've seen this team grow,” Mee said. “We had three freshmen at state the first year we made it. Now we've grown, and with that comes maturity, and the ability to think our way around a golf course.
“This season has been special. I hope that we do well at state. I think that we will. It's just a blessing, and glory to God, to get to go out there and try to win it.”