Garner Cleveland: Sports

Holly Springs girls golf wins 4A East regional

The Holly Springs’ girls’ golf team added another “first in school history” to its landmark season when the Golden Hawks won the NCHSAA 4A East Regional Monday at Chapel Hill Country Club.

Holly Springs already considered its season a success when it dethroned perennial power Green Hope to claim the Southwest Wake Athletic 4A for its first conference crown. But considering the strength of the conference, no one should have been surprised by Holly Springs’ regional title.

“The competition in our league is so strong compared to the rest of the state,” said senior Courtney Normand, the Golden Hawks’ best finisher with a 5-over 78. “If we can compete with Green Hope, we can compete with the rest of the state. We’re so excited to win our first regional title.”

The individual regional title came down to a four-hole playoff as Heritage senior Rhea Bhatia and Garner freshman Kayla Ward both shot 76. Bhatia holed a 45-foot birdie putt that was up a ridge and broke left on No. 4 for the victory.

“I have had three other playoffs that all went four or five holes, but this was the first time I won,” Bhatia said of her junior golf career. “I just tried to keep a positive attitude. I really wanted to win my senior year.”

Bhatia, who placed third last year, overcame a triple-bogey on her second hole (No. 11) when she hit a spectator out of bounds. She recovered with 16 pars and one birdie.

Garner will have two players at the state championships as Tyler Whitley grabbed the one of the final qualifying spots with an 89, tying for 17th.

The Trojans were sixth in the team standings and 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.

Holly Springs won the team competition by a comfortable margin of nine strokes with 256 total. Senior Abby Snidemiller and sophomore Natalie Peterson added 89s. The other seniors in the four-year quest to beat Green Hope who didn’t figure in Monday’s scoring were Jordan Marshall and Audrey Jandorek.

The 4A state championships, a two-day and 36-hole event, will take place Oct. 27-28 at Pinehurst No. 1.