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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Harmon takes game to Henderson State

Friday, April 30, 2010

It's been impossible not to feel the impact that the Izard County Lady Cougars' golf team has had on the high school scene the past four years.

Finishing as state runners-up twice during that time frame, while coming in third place in Class 2A the other two years, has seen to that.

Now, two large components of Izard County's success the last four years, Kiley Mettler and Rachel Harmon, are set to make their impact felt at the next level.

The pair of four-time All-Staters recently inked letters of intents to play college golf.

Mettler signed in late January to play at Seminole State in Sanford, Fla., and Harmon inked April 20 to play next fall at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia.

That goes a long way in explaining while the Lady Cougs have been such a force on the course -- two golfers off the same team headed to the collegiate level.

"We've been blessed for the last four years. Both Kiley and Rachel have been All-State for four years," said Izard County Head Coach David Harmon. "Both of them have played in the Overall State Championships three of their four years here and they've led us to two runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes in the state. So it's quite an accomplishment to have two at this level to have the opportunity to go on and play collegiate golf."

And Rachel's father, David Harmon, gets the extra-special opportunity to celebrate as a coach and as a dad.

"It's pretty amazing, to be honest," he said. "When she (Rachel) took up the game several years ago, I never imagined it would lead to this point ... I hoped it would, but golf is not a sport that's cheap. You've got time, equipment and a lot of travel invested ... so you hope that it leads to this, but you never know when you get started."

And once Rachel Harmon got started, she didn't quit.

She finished as State Medalist in 2006, she finished third in 2007 and 2009 and came in sixth in 2008. Rachel was also a four-time District Medalist and three-time Regional Medalist.

No wonder then, that Rachel Harmon was on the radar of several colleges.

But in the end, she chose Henderson State over Lyon College.

"They've got a good golf program at Henderson State," she said. "They contacted me and we set a date to visit. I liked the campus and other stuff and decided to sign with them. And I really like Coach (Blake) McAffe. I'm just excited about joining the Henderson State golf team and starting my colligiate career."

Not slowing down when the high school season ends, Rachel has kept busy the past four summers by competing in ASGA, PGA and USJCT Tournaments, all of which should help prepare her for the competition at Henderson State.

"I'm planning to continue to practice nearly every day," she said. "I want to improve the skills that I already have and continue to learn more."

One skill that Rachel has fully-developed is her game off the tee.

"She drives the ball as well as anybody around. Her ninth-grade year, she hit the ball extremely long," Coach Harmon said. "Her 10th and 11th grade years, she didn't hit it as far as she did her freshman year and I think that was due to an equipment change I made with her. But this past year, we put her back in men's clubs and she's hitting the ball farther than she did even in her ninth-grade year. So I think driving's her strength and her short game has gotten better, too."

While coaching a daughter, especially a talented one, may be a dream come true, as Coach Harmon acknowledges, it can also be kind of hard, as well.

"Honestly, I think she'll be a better golfer at the collegiate level than in high school," Coach Harmon said. "Just for the simple fact that I won't be around. That may sound funny, but this year I felt like I placed too much pressure on her. We knew that there were several schools looking at her. And that's the bad part of being coach and dad. I felt like at times when she didn't play well this year, that it was my fault. But when she gets to college, she won't have to live up to those expectations and can relax and just play golf."

And while Rachel cites being named State Medalist in her freshman year as a high point during her career at Izard County, she's quick to point out what she'd like to help the Lady Reddies accomplish.

"A national championship," she said. "I'd like to help Henderson State win a national championship."

According to McAfee, Harmon shouldn't have to wait long to get her chance at helping Henderson State.

"We've just got three players returning and I think she will contribute right away," he said.

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