Athens Drive junior Jennifer Chang became the second N.C. High School Athletic Association girls golfer to win three state championships, firing a two-day, 2-under-par of 142 to hold off Charlotte Catholic’s Keri Kenkel by one stroke.
It was the closest of Chang’s three titles and the only one where she led after Day 1.
“This year is the first year where I’m sleeping on the leaderboard going into the second round,” said Chang, a Southern Cal recruit. “This year it was more pressure just because the scores were a lot closer.”
At the end of her round, Chang checked the NCHSAA’s live scoring website and saw that Kenkel was tied with her through nine holes. So Chang went out to the putting green and practiced just in case of a playoff.
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“Today, putting and chipping is what saved me,” Chang said.
No one has ever won four state titles, but Chang will have a shot next year.
Pinecrest edges Cardinal Gibbons for title
Pinecrest didn’t wilt under the pressure of having a first-day lead. The Patriots shot a 233 on the second day, one less than 234 on Day 1 to edge Cardinal Gibbons 467-477.
Gibbons had won two straight championships, the first in 3A and last year’s 4A title. Pinecrest had finished third, second and second in the last three seasons but now has its first state title since 2001.
“We tried to not be comfortable with ourselves even thought we had a lead,” said Elizabeth Nguyen (11th, 156), the only Pinecrest senior in the lineup. “A nine-stroke lead can go pretty quickly in team play.”
Gibbons coach Greg Greska said his team knew it was a few strokes behind, but Pinecrest played steady enough to maintain that lead.
Gibbons has no seniors in its lineup, so these two could decide next year’s title as well.
“It should be a good game again next year,” Pinecrest coach Richard Wainwright said.
Triangle takes top 10
In addition to Chang, six other area golfers finished in the top 10.
Holly Springs senior Natalie Petersen, a Georgia Southern recruit, took fourth with a 149.
“I finished like 14th last year, so it was a lot better. My game’s gotten a lot better since last year,” Petersen said.
Pinecrest’s Mackenzie Battle (5th, 150), Leesville Road’s Mogie Adamchik (6th, 152), Wakefield’s Lotte Fox (T-7th, 153), Garner’s Kayla Ward (T-7th, 153) and Gibbons’ Riley Smyth (10th, 155) were all among the state’s best.
“I’m pretty proud of myself overall,” said Adamchik, an Appalachian State recruit. “I’ve definitely improved over the last few years. (Finishing in the top 10) is pretty special to me.”
Wakefield matched its first-day score to finish third at 506 while Apex Friendship, in its second season, was fifth with 521.
Pinecrest’s Nguyen and Gibbons sophomore Megan Kanaby were the NCHSAA sportsmanship award winners.
More finishers: Hailey Freedman, Cardinal Gibbons (15th), Jenna Nagy, Panther Creek (16th), Hannah Rose Bruxvoort, Cardinal Gibbons (T-17th), Mara Hirtle, Pinecrest (T-17th), Caroline Duggan, Apex Friendship (T20), Kayla Parsons, Athens Drive (T-24th), Jaclyn Kenzel, Pinecrest (T28).