Conway High’s girls took the first step toward a 7A state championship Monday.

They claimed the 7A/6A Central title after the first round of the state tournament at Conway Country Club.

The Lady Cats, with the top three scores counting in the tourney format, easily took the conference title, combining for a 244 with two freshmen doing the primary scoring behind senior Summar Roachell.

For today’s final round, the field of 12 teams will be reduced to six, plus the next eight top individuals not on a qualifying team. The individuals will play for a spot in the Overall tournament.

The teams were divided into Central and West Conferences for the first round. The first-round scores will count Tuesday, but conference affiliations will disappear for the second round. Fort Smith Southside, with a 299, was a distant second to Conway among teams classified in 7A Central.

The Lady Cats also lead Fayetteville, which is seeking its seventh straight girls state title, by 19 strokes going into the final round as the state championship competition has developed into a two-team race.

Roachell, who is trying to win her fourth straight 7A individual title, fired a 2-over 72 to take a five-stroke lead over Fayetteville’s Anna Lavy in individual competition.

Lady Cat freshmen Alexis McDaniel and Logan Tolliver then helped give Conway a cushion. McDaniel came in at 83, one of the best scores behind Roachell and Lavy and Tolliver fired an 89. McDaniel’s best score of her career was an 82 last weekend at the Hurricane Invitational at Jonesboro. "She’s playing her best golf at the right time," said CHS coach Janet Taylor, who has three seniors and two freshmen on the five she selected to play in the state tournament.

The other Conway scores were seniors Tristan Jenkins, 90, and Morgan Clark, 98.