Emilia Migliaccio of Athens Drive has never played a round of high school golf, but the freshman already is among the favorites to win a N.C. High School Athletic Association girls golf championship.
Migliaccios amateur background has preceded her and her credentials are impressive.
She won the Trusted Choice Big I State Championship at Pine Needles in July with a 72-68 and won the UNC Finley PKB in March with a 74-70. She was runner-up in the N.C. Junior and was a semifinalist in the Carolina Junior.
She also qualified for the Callaway Junior World Championship for the second year in a row and is a member of the North Carolina-South Carolina all-star team selected to play the Virginia-Maryland all-stars.
Migliaccio has a career-best nine hole score of 30, which was shot at Chapel Hills Finley Golf Course, and an 18-hole best of 68 at the Big I qualifier.
She doesnt remember a lot about the Finley round. Just that it was a 30, she said. I was making all of the putts.
Migliaccio is ranked No. 3 among in the states junior girls golfers and seemingly is getting better.
I have different things than Ive had before, Migliaccio said.
Her short game has improved over the past few months and she is stronger and hits the ball farther.
She looks at the high school season as a new joy.
Ive wanted to play high school golf for a long time, said the 14-year-old. The girls I have talked to say that it is so much fun. Every one I have met is really, really sweet.
Migliaccio set up a charity, Birdies for Skin Cancer, when she was 11 years old. She asked family and friends to pledge $1 for every birdie she made during the year. Her goal was $1,000.
The fund took in more than $3,500. Her goal for this year is more than $10,000.
She also has the goal of playing well for Athens Drive, which Tony Alcon coached to state titles in 2008, 2009 and 2011 and to a runner-up finish in 2010. Alcon retired and 2012 state champ Sarah Bae graduated.
Bae, like Migliaccio, entered high school with an outstanding amateur background and finished second, sixth, third and first in the NCHSAA individual championships while leading the team to three state titles.
Migliaccio may have the same sort of potential. She knows there are high expectations and enjoys them.
It is nice to see people at the tournaments, she said. It is really encouraging.
Teams to watch
Green Hope finished third in the N.C. High School Athletic Association in 2012 but lost its top two players. Junior Meghan Symonds ended last year on a roll, tying for third in the state with a 155, three-shots back of winner Sarah Bae. She also tied for runner-up in the 4A East regional. Junior Amanda Yannoni had a strong summer including a round of 77 in the Big I Trusted tournament. Junior Sophie Riegel was all-conference.
Wake Forest returns three state qualifiers from a team that finished third in the Cap Eight 4A. Senior Amanda Levy has been the team MVP the past three years. Her top finish in the NCHSAA championships is 17th. Junior Madie Fingers and sophomore Samantha Bennett also played among the Cougars top three last year.
Holly Springs missed the state tournament by a top hole tiebreaker to Wake Forest last year. The Golden Hawks are expected to contend with Green Hope and others for the Southwest Wake 4A Conference title this season. Four starters return led by senior Leigha Holt, the programs top player the last two years. She finished tied for 13th in the NCHSAA championships. Junior Courtney Normand played No. 2 in 2012 and also qualified for the state competition.
Southern Pines Pinecrest has three starters back from a club that was state 4A runner-up. Senior Gabby Weiss was fourth in 2012. Junior Catherine Cirgliano has qualified for the state finals the last two years and senior Savannah Thompson was an all-conference selection.
Ones to watch
Jessica Kittelberger, Ravenscroft, Sr.: Won NCISAA girls title in 2012. 38-stroke per high school round average (nine holes) in 2011 and was the Triangle Independent School Athletic Conference co-medalist and tied for second in the N.C. Independent School Athletic Association championships.
Caroline ONeill, Cardinal Gibbons, Jr.: Finished ninth in NCHSAA 3A state competition.
Catherine Ashworth, Fuquay-Varina, Jr.: Was 12th in NCHSAA 4A finals and a second-team Tarheel Youth Golf Association (TYGA) and Carolinas Golf Association (CGA) all-state selection.
Rhea Bhatia, Heritage, Jr.: Shot a 79 to finish tied for runner-up in the NCHSAA 4A East regional and qualify for state competition. Teammate Kendra Dalton shot an 83 to qualify.
Brianna Bulgarino, Enloe, Jr.: Shot an 84 in the NCHSAA 4A East regional to qualify for state competition. Sophomore Lily James qualified with an 87.
Savannah Gowarty, Sanderson, Jr.: Shot an 87 in the NCHSAA 4A East regional to qualify for state competition.
Alaina Yeatts, Durham Trinity, Sr.: UNC Wilmington recruit
Cameron Little, Saint Marys, Sr.: Triangle Independent Schools Athletic Conference champion was eighth in NCISAA championship. Senior teammates Katie Nash and Holden Stanley also return.
Muk Shoomee, Lee County, So.: Edged eventual state champion Sarah Bae as the 4A East regional medalist and was runner-up to Bae for player of the year in the Tri-9 4A (Lee County moves to 3A this year). A third-team Tarheel Youth Golf Association (TYGA) and Carolinas Golf Association (CGA) all-state selection.
Ellen Smith, Cardinal Gibbons, Jr: Was 11th in NCHSAA 3A state finals.
Sarah Towne, East Chapel Hill, Jr.: Shot a 79 to finish tied for runner-up in the NCHSAA 4A East regional and qualify for state competition.