Coming from behind is familiar territory in high school state tournaments for 4-A women’s power Athens Drive.
The Jaguars, a runner-up in 2010, carded a two-day total of 481 at Pinehurst No. 6 to beat Reagan of Forsyth County by 10 shots en route to their third state title in four years.
The Jaguars had to fight out of a tightly bunched field after the first round. They trailed defending champion Charlotte Ardrey Kell by one shot and four teams were within six shots of the lead.
“There was no big pep talk,” said Athens Drive coach Tony Alcon said. “I told the girls just believe in yourself and go out and do it. And if you don’t do it, I will love you anyway.”
Senior Hilary Gugig said the team was in a common position.
“We’ve always been a come-from-behind team in every state tournament I played in,” she said. “We knew it was our last one and we tried to go out with a bang. It was a good day, a good four years.”
The Jaguars peaked at the right time. They finished third in their conference and second in the regional tournament.
“We had an off season,” Alcon said. “We didn’t play what we were capable of but the girls came through. We knew we were in the running after the first day and we didn’t play our best golf.
“I have two seniors on the team who started with me four years ago and senior maturity was a big thing.”
Gugig led the Jaguars on the second day with a 77, shaving five strokes off her first-round score.
“I was actually calmer the first day knowing it was my last state tournament ever,” she said. “My heart was racing (in the second round) but I kept thinking, just keep it in play. When I do, things seem to fall into place somehow.”
Alcon said Gugig played her best golf when it counted most.
“I knew Hilary would peak sometime this year and she finally did. Her 77 was awesome. She has been there for me all year long. She’s the one I could definitely count on.”
The team’s other senior, Mande Monchick, shot 85-84.
The Jaguars’ top player is junior Sarah Bae, who shot 74 in the first round and was tied for the individual lead. But she carded a 79 in the final round and left the final green in tears.
“Sarah was very frustrated with a 79 because she knows she didn’t play her best golf,” Alcon said. “Each girl came off the green disappointed because they didn’t want to let the other girls down. That’s what it’s all about, working together.”
Alcon said a tough course setup at the regional in Durham helped Athens Drive prepare for the final at Pinehurst No. 6, which played at 5,735 yards and par 71.
“The pin placements at Duke were unbelievable,” he said. “Every pin was tucked behind a sand trap. We survived that playing poorly so I thought it would be better here. We’re not used to real fast greens and at Duke they were lightning fast. The greens here were a little slower and we made some putts.”
Alcon paid tribute to his senior class of four years ago that started Athens Drive’s title run.
“Four years ago, we had senior leaders that took these girls in and let them see a taste of it to where they could improve their game,” he said. “I give a lot of credit to my senior class four years ago. They let these girls see what it was like and got them motivated so they could put the effort into it and be a good team.”
Reagan High shot 491 to finish second, while Ardrey Kell was third at 493.
Reagan’s Victoria Allred, the daughter of Triangle Golf Today publisher Jay Allred, shot 149 (75-74) to win the individual title.
Allyson Markiewicz of Ardrey Kell was three shots back at 152 and Bae finished third at 153.