Athens Drive freshman Jennifer Chang claimed her school’s third straight girls’ golf state individual title, but Green Hope’s trio of Meghan Symonds, Amanda Yannoni and Reilly Thomas captured their school’s first state team championship.
Chang shot an even-par 70 for a two-day, 36-hole total of 4-over 144 to win by two strokes in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A individual competition that finished Tuesday at Pinehurst No. 1.
The Jaguars’ orange-and-blue colors have become familiar during state medal presentation ceremonies.
In addition to Athens Drive athletes now having claimed three in a row, Chang is the second consecutive freshman and the school’s fourth tournament medalist in six years. Emilia Migliaccio won for Athens Drive as a freshman in 2013, Sarah Bae in 2012 and Katherine Perry in 2009.
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Migliaccio opted not to play high school golf this year, which opened the door for Chang. But Chang said she will be back to defend her title. If she is successful, she will prevent a third consecutive Athens Drive freshman from winning while pushing the school’s streak to four in a row and five in seven.
“Playing high school golf was one of the most fun things I’ve done,” said the 15-year-old, who has only been playing golf five years. “I plan to play the next three years.”
Chang and Fuquay-Varina senior Catherine Ashworth started the second day one shot back of Greensboro Page’s Ellis Hunter’s 73.
Ashworth, who is bound for East Carolina, carded a strong 2-over 72 for a 6-over 146 as the runner-up. She was the leader in the clubhouse, but she didn’t think her score would stand up when she heard Chang shot a 2-under 32 on the front nine.
“She’s a very strong and very steady player,” Ashworth said.
Pinehurst Director of Golf Ben Bridgers said the course was playing difficult and the first-day 73 by Hunter and 74s by Chang and Ashworth “were impressive scores on this course.”
When he heard Chang shot even-par 70, he said. “Wow! That’s really impressive.” He added another “Wow!” when was told about the 2-under front nine.
Triangle golfers picked up the third- and fourth-place medals, too. Garner’s Kayla Ward was third at 9-over 149 and Symonds fourth at 11-over 151.
Green Hope only led by two shots entering the second round in team competition, but the Falcons pulled away with a 483 total for a nine-shot victory over Pinehurst Pinecrest.
Symonds shot (75-76) 151, Yannoni (81-81) 163 and Thomas (87-82) 169. Symonds and Yannoni are seniors but Thomas is a sophomore who returns.
Green Hope has been considered a state power while rolling up conference and regional titles, but to the surprise of many this was its first state crown. And it came in a year Holly Springs dethroned the Falcons as Southwest Wake Athletic Conference champions.
“I’m so proud of this team,” said Symonds. “We played a steady game. I can’t describe how much it means to win our first state title, especially with all the competition in this tournament.”
Holly Springs, the regional champion, was fourth at 505 and Fuquay-Varina fifth at 506.