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Rice competes in regional golf shootout

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By Jamie Grabert

Kaelen Rice leads the Mount Vernon Girls Golf team. She’s one of the fiercest competitors in the region. So, it came as no surprise she was invited to participate in a pro-am type event known as the Tri-State Varsity Shootout.

Rice was the first-ever and lone Wildcat on the course where she played among the regions top boys and girls golfers. Each high school competitor was paired with a professional golfer. Rice was partnered with Web.com pro Conrad Shindler.

“It was nerve-wrecking, but it was fun. It’s an honor to be the first athlete from Mount Vernon to play in this event,” said Rice.

Golfers from 15 local high schools participated in the invitation-only event held last Monday at Victoria National Golf Course in Newburgh. Players were separated into three groups of five. The high school golfer and the pro play alternating shots for six holes.

She said it was interesting to watch which club they played and how they lined up their shots. Rice said Shindler talked her through the round, while other pros were less engaging with their junior partners. “Conrad was nice. He walked with me and talked to me on the course. The pros were using irons of the tees when we were using drivers,” she said.

Rice, a junior, played in a group with student-athletes who’ve signed to play NCAA Division I golf. She held her own. Mater Dei’s Spencer Wagner won the event.

Rice was nominated by Mount Vernon Girls’ Golf Coach Dave Bell, who was in attendance at the event along with assistant coach Travis Wolfe.

This was the second annual Tri-State Varsity Shootout, which is sponsored by Tri-State Orthopaedics and Kahn Dees Donovan & Kahn.

It was her first time to play Victoria National, but she has helped with the Web.com Tour event at the world-renowned club the last couple years, serving as a signbearer and scorekeeper at the United Leasing Championship.  

Rice began playing golf five years ago, in the seventh grade. She is a three-time letter winner and has earned Most Improved Player and recently Most Valuable Player for the Lady Cats.

She said she practices a skill every day. One day it’s putting, and the next day it’s driving, the next it’s chipping, and so on. She’s always working on her skills. She also works with a personal trainer to improve her strength and conditioning.
Rice enjoys golf, especially when the ball goes the right place. “Golf is fun when it [the ball] goes where it’s supposed to,” she laughed.

Rice participates in the Indiana Junior Golf program, where she plays on the Mt. Dew Tour. She plays in tournaments throughout the year; the first event will be held June 1, in Bloomington, Indiana. She also plays in the Master’s Series of the Evansville Junior Golf program.

Kaelen is the daughter of Dr. Jim and Lisa Rice, of Mount Vernon. Dr. Rice served as caddy for Kaelen in the event.