Get used to the name: Emilia Migliaccio a star golfer for Athens Drive

mblake@newsobserver.comOctober 29, 2013 

— When she was called to receive her championship plaque, the introduction was purposefully short.

Winning the NCHSAA 4A girls’ golf championship was Athens Drive freshman “Emilia ...” And the officials let her say her own last name.

“Migliaccio,” she said, finishing the announcement as everyone shared a laugh.

It’s a last name (mi-lee-AH-choh) that the state might have to get used to pronouncing.

The Jaguars’ golfer followed up a 73 on the first day with a 76 on Day 2 at Pinehurst No. 6 golf course (par 72) to finish with 149 and a two-stroke victory.

“I’m just in awe. I’m so happy right now. I didn’t play that well on the front nine, so I’m really proud of the way I came back,” Migliaccio said.

Migliaccio ended her round impressively, reaching the green in two strokes on the par-5 No. 18 before two-putting for birdie.

Much was made entering this season about the successful youth golfer’s first year in high school, which put a lot of pressure on her.

“My mom and my coach told me. ‘Calm down and just have fun and play your game. If you win, you lose, it doesn’t matter,’” Migliaccio said. “That relaxed me, and made me calm down and then I just played my game and had fun.”

Migliaccio is the third Athens Drive state champion in the past five years, following Katherine Perry (2009) and Sarah Bae (2012).

Charlotte’s Ardrey Kell High (477) won the team title, edging Green Hope (489) and Southern Pines Pinecrest (494).

Holly Springs (509, fourth), Wake Forest (519, sixth) and Heritage (eighth, 528) also competed in the team portion of the championships.

Green Hope junior Meghan Symonds (151) tied for second with Ardrey Kell’s Moon Cheong. Symonds had tied for third at last year’s state championships – also at Pinehurst No. 6 – and she is the only player to top Migliaccio this season.

Coach Donna Lerner honored Symonds after the match with a NCHSAA sportsmanship award, given to one player on the championship and runner-up teams.

“I was just really honored that she thought of me for that,” Symonds said.

Symonds created a team concept by giving each player a green stone. If a player got nervous, they were to rub the stone and think of the support their teammates.

Symonds was tied for the lowest second-day score with Holly Springs senior Leigha Holt (152, fourth). This was only Holt’s fourth year of playing golf.

“My freshman year, right before golf season, I told my dad ‘I think I’m going to try out for the team,’” Holt said.

Holt was more pleased with the team finishing fourth than her own fourth-place finish.

“That’s huge,” she said.

Sanderson junior Savannah Gowarty (154, fifth) shot a 77 on both days.

“It’s not a very complicated course,” Gowarty said. “The rough is a little thick, so if you’re not in the fairway, then it’s a little hard getting out of it. But most of the time, if you’re in the fairway, there’s nothing too hazardous around it.”

Heritage senior Kendra Dalton (157) was in a three-way tie for ninth to earn all-state honors. Five of the 11 golfers who made all-state team were from Wake County.

“It was a really rough day for me, but I hung in there. I was proud of the way I finished,” said Dalton, a BYU recruit.

West Johnston’s Monika Vidlickova (158) shot 79s on both days and missed all-state honors, given to the top 10 golfers, by one stroke.

Enloe’s Lily James (160), East Chapel Hill’s Sarah Towne (162), Garner’s Lauren (162) and Nichole (166) Ceyrolles, Heritage’s Rhea Bhatia (166), Wake Forest’s Samantha Bennett (166) and Amanda (168) were all in the top 25.

Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps

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