SOUTHERN PINES – Northwood’s girls golf program will be forever indebted to Emily Brooks and Maggie Denny.
“This team was actually started because of those two,” said Chargers coach Karen Crisp. “Northwood did not have a team before they came along so it just speaks wonders for what they’ve done.”
The Chargers finished eighth that first year, moved up to fifth in 2009 and were fourth in 2010. They didn’t quite make it to the top as seniors, but finishing second to perennial power Salisbury wasn’t about to sour their final high school rounds.
“We won our conference, we won regionals and second in states is not bad,” said Brooks, who will play collegiately at Elon. “Salisbury played really well.”
The Hornets shot 496 (242-254) to finish 33 shots better than Northwood (269-260). Third-place East Surry was 12 shots further back.
This was the first year that the 2-A and 1-A schools had their own championship as the NCHSAA broke out the 3-A class, just like 4-A.
Brooks had her best state tournament individually as well, finishing just a shot off the pace of Salisbury freshman Isabella Rusher. By shooting 79 each day, she was the only player to break 80 twice on the tough layout at Longleaf Golf & Country Club. In fact, there were only four scores under 80 by the 78-player field over the two rounds.
Rusher opened a huge lead with a 74 in the first round and her 83 was enough to hold of Brooks and Allea Hawkins of Hendersonville, who tied for second. Hawkins, a junior, shot 77-81.
“I left too many putts out there,” said Brooks. “I hit the ball great but I putted terrible. The greens were quick and the pin placements were tough.”
Denny provided support with rounds of 94 and 86, good enough for 15th place individually. Rachel Wynne, a junior, added the third scores with 96-95.
The Chargers were the only school in the field to qualify five players for states and the three returnees will carry the torch next year. Freshman Kyndal Hutchinson posted 101-109 and junior Borden Thomas shot 118-124.
Cardinal Gibbons 3rd in 3-A
Sophomore Rebecca Wiley was 11th and freshman Ellen Smith placed 15th to lead Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons to a third-place finish in the NCHSAA 3-A state tournament.
The Crusaders posted scores of 278 and 277 and ended 14 shots back of state champion Ledford and 10 shots back of runner-up Northern Guilford in the 12-team field.
Wiley shot 88-89 and Smith posted 89-92. The third scores came from senior Elisabeth McFarland with 101-96.