The Etowah girls won the Region 5AAAAAA title at Woodmont on Tuesday when they posted a team total of 241. Finishing second was Walton, followed by Woodstock (259) and Milton, which will all move on the sectionals.
With the victory, Etowah advances directly to next month’s state tournament.
Etowah was led by Tyler Dawson, who shot a 78 and finished second to Walton’s Abbey Williams in individual scoring. Also contributing scores for Etowah were Melanie Talbott (80) and Taylor Anthony (83). The fourth golfer for the Lady Eagles, Ashley Anthony, shot an 86 to give Etowah four of the top six finishers.
First-year coach Craig McKinney said that winning the title was the fulfillment of a season-long goal.
“We said it to ourselves and we said it out loud,” McKinney said. “This was it. I believe that if you really want something you need to say it out loud and let everyone around you know that’s what you are striving for. The region title was our goal and we achieved it. Now we are going on to states and it’s time to start dreaming about something bigger.”
McKinney said that top to bottom it was the best performance for his team this season.
Since they won’t be playing in the section, McKinney said it opens up a date in the program’s schedule when they can schedule another match in order to prepare for state.
“We have some matches scheduled with some teams that we anticipated would be going to state in their classifications, so we will just practice and continue getting better,” he said.
For the first time in school history, River Ridge will be sending a golfer to the state competition after senior Savannah Freeman claimed medalist honors at the Region 7AAAA meet on Monday. Freeman, who is a four-year member of the Lady Knights’ golf program shot a 91. As the region’s low-medalist, she advances directly to the state meet, which will be held May 19 at Bull Creek Golf Course (East) in Midland.
River Ridge finished with a team total of 360, which was not good enough to advance to sectionals.
River Ridge girls golf coach Ansley Sands said it is exciting to be sending an athlete to state for the first time.
“It’s a very big deal,” Sands said. “She was tied with another girl at the end of the round and she one the shoot-off.”
Sands said Freeman’s trip to state is just one example of the player being a team leader.
“She was our senior and she was definitely the leader of the team,” Sands said. “She proved that at the end as well. She set a high caliber for the River Ridge girls in the future.”
In the Region 5AAAAAA boys meet, which was held on Tuesday at Cobblestone, Walton claimed the title as well as the low-medalist in John Yi. The Raiders had not won a region title in golf since 1995.
Roswell finished second, followed by Etowah and Milton. Just outside of those advancing to sectionals was Woodstock. However, the Wolverines will still be sending a representative on. Kevin Burns shot a 78 for the lowest scorer from a team not advancing, so he will move on as an individual.
Leading Etowah to its third place finish were Jake Haggerty (73), Nick Budd (73), Josh Colley (80) and Cole Kirkpatrick (83). Haggerty narrowly missed medalist honors when he lost a playoff with Yi.
Etowah coach Phil Dutko said it was his team’s golf simply to advance to sectionals.
“We accomplished our goal,” he said. “Pretty much everything we expected to happen happened. Walton is definitely the strongest team in the region and they proved that again (Tuesday).”
Milton had beaten Etowah several times during the season and Dutko said it was nice to finally get the better of the other team.
Course conditions remained good throughout the day, despite periods of rain. When the first players teed off it was sunny, but the sky soon clouded and eventually players were donning pullovers to keep the rain off. After a period when everyone needed an umbrella, it finally cleared up again and the players were able to stay dry while they finished their rounds.
“It was a crazy day,” Dutko said of the weather. “It was a stock-market type day weather wise going up and down. The golf course itself though was very playable and very scoreable.”
Also boys’ golf, Creekview will be taking its team to sectionals after placing third at the Region 7AAAAA meet. Cambridge won with a team total of 308. Kell (318) was second followed by Creekview (321) and Pope (334). The Grizzlies had been the defending region title winners.
Kip Denison narrowly missed out on low-medalist honors when he shot a 72 to finish a stroke behind Kell’s Matthew Hines, who carded a 71.
The Region 7AAAAA girls’ tournament is scheduled to take place on Thursday at Bentwater. Golf Club in Acworth.