The lip of the hole cups at Walnut Creek Country Club were not very welcoming to Neuse Charter School golf standout Makenna Hammer in the Oct. 20 1A/2A east regional championships.
Hammer had five putts lip out in her round, but she still found a way to card the tournament’s second-best score, an 86 and regional runner-up honors.
The performance topped a solid day for Johnston County entries in the 1A/2A and 3A regionals as seven golfers from the county qualified for the 36-hole state championships starting Monday and continuing Tuesday.
Each of the four 3A schools advanced one golfer each from the eastern regional at Carolina National Golf Club. South Johnston’s Sydney Wheeless led that group with a round of 85. She will be joined in the 3A state championship field at Longleaf Golf and Country Club by Smithfield-Selma’s Parker Watson, Corinth Holders’ Peyton Labonte and Cleveland’s Tabby Herzig.
Wheeless is the first South Johnston girls golfer to ever qualify for the state championships. She carded a 39 on the back nine, the lowest nine-hole total of the season.
“She really played well, especially considering she had one really tough hole,” said South Johnston coach Daniel Benson. “She made a 10, but she didn’t let it throw off the rest of her round.”
Wheeless was tied for fourth individually, while Watson (91) tied for ninth and Labonte took 12th with a 93. Cleveland’s Herzig finished at 102.
Union Pines took the regional team title with Fayetteville Terry Sanford and Lee County, second and third, respectively.
No other Johnston County players were within striking distance of a state bid at Carolina National. Lana Wang of Corinth Holders shot 109, six shots off of the 103 needed to advance. Cleveland’s Kelsie Baker had a 115.
At the 1A/2A regional, Hammer dropped a birdie putt on the fourth hole of her round and forged her way to a tie for the lead after nine holes. She fell back three shots behind Newport Croatan’s Leann Domotrovits, the defending regional champion, with three holes to play and held on for the second place finish.
“Makenna had a solid all-around game and gave herself a chance to win,” said her dad and coach Mike Hammer. “She almost slipped back to third with a series of risky shots on the final three holes but held onto second place by a shot.”
Rosewood’s Lindsey Burton was third at 87. Seventeen individual players from the regional advanced to the state tournament, set for the Foxfire Resort, including North Johnston’s Kayla Durham and Logan Capps. Durham finished 24th in the regional with a 106. Capps tied for 25th at 108.
Newport Croatan, behind Domotrovits’ performance, was the regional champ. N.C. School of Science and Math was second and South Granville took third to advance as teams.
North Johnston was sixth in the team standings. Heather Crocker shot a 113 for the Panthers.
At the 4A East Regional at Chapel Hill Country Club, Greater Neuse River 4A Conference members competed. Garner was sixth in the team field, led by freshman Kayla Ward who was the regional individual runner-up, losing in a playoff for the title.
Clayton finished 10th. Haley Talton led the Comets with a score of 90, missing out on a state championship berth by a single shot.
Clayton’s Katherine Dull and West Johnston’s Preslee Honeycutt both finished at 99.