For the past three seasons, Lana Klein has made a name for both herself and Triton among local high school girls golf circuits.
She earned trips to the regional and state tournament competitions in each of those campaigns, but one accomplishment slipped her grasp.
Coming into last Monday’s Tri-County 3A Conference Women’s Golf Championship at Keith Hills, the Lady Hawks senior was motivated by last year’s runner-up individual finish and says that was on her mind as she tried to edge Lee County’s Gillian Garrison in the final standings this time around.
“I knew that the girl that was in second this year was barely behind me, so I knew I had to play good today and really beat her,” Klein said after topping the tournament field and winning her first league player of the year honor.
“Mark (Whitman) was hoping I would do it and he had faith in me, so just to be able to do it really felt good.”
Klein shot a season-low score (5-over-par 41) through nine holes, which was nine strokes clear of Garrison.
She finished the year with a conference-leading 46.67 average, nearly two strokes ahead of Garrison and Lee County teammate Lillie Hedrick.
“It’s big for her. She’s worked hard physically and mentally on her game this year. She’s probably in the best physical shape she’s been in compared to last year,” Whitman said, having coached Klein the past three seasons.
“She was focused. She played smart golf. She didn’t try to do anything extraordinary ... she definitely worked hard enough and she deserves it.”
Playing at Keith Hills, a venue she considers a home course, Klein says she felt more comfortable than at other golf clubs in the conference.
She also felt that added attention to mechanics and fundamentals were instrumental in capturing the coveted title.
“I saw myself actually keeping my head down, which is what I told Mark while I was playing. I was like, ‘this is the first time I felt myself actually seeing the club hit the ball. That made a big difference,” she said.
“I started off really good. I knew the first two holes would be really hard on me because of the two hazards and I’ve normally hit it in there. But I just shot it over, I played smart and I just did what I was supposed to do.”
The day’s lowest round helped power Triton to a total team score of 139, good enough to top the five-team field while marking a second-place conference finish in the final standings.
As Klein moves forward to her fourth straight regional event this week, she hopes her successful career will empower and influence her younger teammates to try their best.
“They know they can do it. Every one of them has it in them,” she said.
Below is Klein’s acceptance speech along with her responses to a list of personal questions from The Daily Record staff.
Acceptance Speech: I’d like to thank coach Mark Whitman for having faith in me and telling me I can do it. And also my dad.
A special superpower you wish you had: To be invisible, because you could hear people's conversations and they wouldn’t know it.
Favorite place to visit: Kerr Lake
Favorite movie: Safe Haven