Athens Drive’s Jennifer Chang enters this season on the cusp of history. The junior has a chance to become the second three-time state champion in N.C. High School Athletic Association history, joining Northern Nash alumna Ashley Leonard.
No girls golfer has ever won four titles. Chapel Hill’s Gina Kim, also a junior, is coming off the NCHSAA 3A championship. She was runner-up as a freshman and is currently ranked No. 1 in the state. Chang is No. 2.
Kim is also the reigning N&O girls golf player of the year, while Chang won her freshman year.
Cap-8 4A Wakefield was fourth in the 4A state championships after winning the Cap-8 and returns two of its top three: seniors Susannah Ireland and Rachel Hulicki. ... Heritage, second in the league, returns state qualifier Kallie Faulkner and Broughton, in third, brings back junior Cate Brewer, who also qualified. Leesville Road senior Mogie Adamchik gives the league five returning qualifiers.
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Greater Neuse 4A Garner returns as conference champ, led by two-time player of the year Kayla Ward, a junior, as well as state qualifier Taylor Whitley. Clayton was second and West Johnston third.
Southwest Wake 4A Powerhouse Athens Drive won the SWAC and was fifth in the state championships. It returns Chang and all-conference sophomore Kayla Parsons. ... Middle Creek, second in the league, brings back sophomore Jillian Preisach, while third-place Panther Creek returns senior Jenna Nagy. Both qualified for the state championships. ... Holly Springs senior Natalie Petersen was 14th in the 4A championships and Apex Friendship sophomore Caroline Duggan tied for 15th.
More 4A Cardinal Gibbons is coming off its second straight NCHSAA championship and returns its top four: juniors Riley Smyth (5th in 4A), Hailey Freedman (6th in 4A), Hannah Rose Bruxvoort and sophomore Megan Kanaby. ... Pinecrest, which was runner-up in the state championships by 26 strokes, figures to be the Crusaders’ top competitor again this year. ... The Patriots return their top four: senior Elizabeth Nguyen (T-7th in 4A), junior Mackenzie Battle (T-20), junior Courtney Jingle and sophomore Lorin Wagler.
Two Rivers 3A Smithfield-Selma won last year’s conference crown, beating out Triton and Corinth Holders. Corinth Holders returns state qualifier Peyton LaBonte, a senior, and Triton returns one qualifier in junior Kathryn Elliott. ... South Johnston senior Sydney Wheeless is also back after finishing 11th at the 3A championships.
More 3A Kim had a 6-stroke victory at the state championships last year and enters this season ranked No. 1 in the state among all golfers. ... Lee County was runner-up in the NCHSAA 3A and Union Pines was fifth. ... Lee graduated two-time state champ Muk Shoomee but returns two of its top four: senior Morgan McRae and sophomore Allison Von Canon. Union Pines graduated its top three. ... Southern Lee senior Emma Langston, Hunt sophomore Sarah Bunn and C.B. Aycock junior Abby Sauls also qualified for the state championship as individuals. ... Northwood was third in the Carolina Central Conference, a mash-up of golf-playing schools from the PAC-6 4A, Big 8 3A and Mid-State 2A.
Eastern Plains 2A North Johnston qualified for the 1A/2A state championships the hard way – missing the top-three-teams-advance cut and instead qualifying all three players individually. The Panthers finished 11th and will bring back Brilyn Parker and Caroline Baker from last year’s trio that played at states. ... Beddingfield junior Sarah Godwin is a state qualifier.
Northern Carolina 2A Defending conference champ N.C. School Science & Math brings back senior Claudia Sisk, who qualified for the state championships, while South Granville returns junior Claire Patrick.
More 2A Carrboro was second to Cardinal Gibbons in the Carolina Central Conference. Meaghan McPeak, a senior, was tied for ninth overall at the 1A/2A state championships.
North Central Athletic 1A Franklin Academy, which qualified for the 1A/2A state championships and finished tied for seventh, brings back its top three players in seniors Sara Allen and Erin Walsh and junior Emma Bowers. ... East Wake Academy senior Caitlyn Seastrunk has the distinction of having a hole-in-one at last year’s 1A/2A state championships.
More 1A Rosewood’s Shamayah Revis, a senior, returns after playing in last year’s 1A/2A championships.
NCISAA Ravenscroft was fifth and North Raleigh Christian seventh in the N.C. Independent School Athletic Association championships, though it was NRCA that won the conference title. NRCA returns its full team including conference champ Channing Hensley. Ravenscroft brings back senior Natalie Warren, who was tied for 9th in the state championships.