Fri. May 24th, 2024

Oklahoma high school girls golf: Stillwater wins first state championship

By admin May4,2024

STILLWATER — Stillwater locals gathered around the green as the last wave of golfers approached the 18th hole Tuesday afternoon.

The crowd was bigger. The applause was louder. Every celebration for Stillwater’s girls golf team was magnified because of the setting.

The Pioneers made history at home.

Stillwater secured the school’s first state championship in girls golf, and it happened at Stillwater Country Club. The Pioneers carded a 615 to win the Class 6A title by 11 strokes, toppling two-time defending state champion Jenks. The runner-up Trojans shot a 626, and Edmond North placed third with a 641.

Second-year Stillwater coach Angela Knott, the Pioneers’ former junior high coach, has treasured the opportunity to watch the golfers grow up and handle the pressure of competing at state with the eyes of their hometown upon them.

“We preach to them really hard that they’ve got to be extra kind to themselves,” Knott said. “Have positive words to say to themselves even when things aren’t quite going the way that they want to. Champions figure out how to get it done even when they’re not maybe playing their best, and the only shot that really matters is the next one.”

Three Stillwater golfers finished in the top 10, but the individual title went to Norman North sophomore Juliana Hong, who carded a 1-over 141 through two rounds.

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Stillwater's Lucy Darr watches her drive on the eighth hole during the Class 6A girls golf state championship Tuesday at Stillwater Country Club.Stillwater's Lucy Darr watches her drive on the eighth hole during the Class 6A girls golf state championship Tuesday at Stillwater Country Club.

Stillwater’s Lucy Darr watches her drive on the eighth hole during the Class 6A girls golf state championship Tuesday at Stillwater Country Club.

When she walked off the 18th green, her teammates surprised her with the news she was holding the lead.

“I didn’t even know I was ahead the whole time because I don’t look at any of my (leaderboard) stuff,” Hong said. “I actually thought I was behind at the end.”

The wind had picked up since Monday, adding a challenge as everyone finished over par, but Hong managed to birdie the second and sixth holes for another solid start.

Since she had one of the earlier tee times Tuesday, her fate was out of her hands after her final putt.

Yang Eric Hong, her father, also waited at the clubhouse as results trickled in. He said Juliana, who won the Class 6A West regional title during the past week, is relatively new to golf, starting around age 10.

She dabbled in a variety of other sports, from gymnastics to figure skating, but golf stuck.

Since then, Hong’s meteoric rise through the American Junior Golf Association and high school leaderboards has taken her family on a surprising but rewarding journey.

“We didn’t have any expectations when we came here, because we knew Stillwater was the favorite team,” her father said. “We just asked her to relax.”

Hong reflected this approach, bouncing back from bogeys to retain the lead she didn’t know she had.

Lucy Darr was Hong’s nearest challenger, but the Stillwater senior shot a 144 through two rounds to place second. Darr was paired with fellow Oklahoma State signee Rylee Roberts, the Edmond North senior who fired a 158 to place 12th.

More: Norman North’s Juliana Hong atop Class 6A leaderboard

Norman North's Juliana Hong hits on the 18th hole during the Class 6A girls golf state championship at Stillwater Country Club in Stillwater, Okla., Tuesday, April 30, 2024.Norman North's Juliana Hong hits on the 18th hole during the Class 6A girls golf state championship at Stillwater Country Club in Stillwater, Okla., Tuesday, April 30, 2024.

Norman North’s Juliana Hong hits on the 18th hole during the Class 6A girls golf state championship at Stillwater Country Club in Stillwater, Okla., Tuesday, April 30, 2024.

Hong and Nikki Pitts of Stillwater were the only sophomores to finish in the top 10, while juniors and seniors comprised the rest of the group. Pitts placed eighth, and junior teammate Amy Reavis, who also carded a 155, finished ninth with the tiebreaker. Stillwater freshman Maggie Ruby placed 16th with a 161, opening the second round with a birdie on the first hole, and senior Jade Gosney shot a 166.

Together, the Pioneers accepted their trophy from OSU alumnus Chris Tidland, the golf pro at Stillwater Country Club, as their community cheered them on.

“That was the coolest part, having all of our family and friends out here watching,” Darr said. “There were a lot of members out here, too, watching, that we know and that we play golf with, so that was pretty cool.”

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Layne Ailshie wins Class 4A title, leads Fort Gibson to team crown

Fort Gibson’s Layne Ailshie had some catching up to do as she entered the second round of the Class 4A state tournament.

Sitting in third place and six shots behind the leader, her teammate and fellow senior Katelyn Rigsby, the Central Oklahoma signee knew she needed to have a good day in order to win her second individual state title.

Although Ailshie ended up finishing exactly as she did in round one with an 8-over 81, that was enough to help her come away with the win.

Ailshie won the title by two strokes over Sulphur junior Paisley Eason and 10 shots over Rigsby, but that wasn’t the only medal she won. Fort Gibson claimed its second girls golf state championship as it finished with a team score of 677, while Marlow placed second with a 711 and Clinton was third with a 735.

“I didn’t do my best either day, but I was able to come back today, the second day on the back nine and do better and accomplish the state title,” Ailshie said. “It’s been a crazy two days.”

This latest victory caps a stellar high school career for Ailshie, who placed second at the state tournament as a freshman, won the title as a sophomore and tied for third last year.

Ailshie said her ability to perform under pressure improved from last season and that was a big reason she claimed the title.

“I played great last year,” Ailshie said. “I think that I’m a lot better now in those hard situations.”

As a team, Fort Gibson had a dominant tournament.

The Tigers led by 26 strokes at the end of the first round and cruised from there.

“I’ve had these seniors for a while,” Fort Gibson coach Jordan London said. “We’ve just gotten better and better and then we got some young girls paired with them. After the first day, if you’re up 26 strokes, that definitely meets expectations.”

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Class 5A: McGuinness wins program’s 4th title

Allie Justiz made up for lost time.

The Bishop McGuinness senior had missed about three weeks of practice because of illness. But when she reached the Class 5A state tournament, she helped her team run away with the title.

McGuinness shot a 690 at Muskogee Golf Club to win by 41 strokes, securing its fourth state championship in program history.

“When we started out (Tuesday), I thought, ‘This could be good,’” McGuinness coach Mark Veneklasen said. “I kind of thought we would win, and a week ago, I thought, ‘We’ve got a chance to pull this off.’ I was thinking maybe 20 strokes. We certainly got the 20 strokes, so I was totally pleased.”

Allie Justiz fired a 152 through two rounds to finish as the individual runner-up, while sophomore Abbie Justiz placed third with a 158. The sisters improved their scores from the first round to the second, but no one could catch Altus’ Natalie Blonien. The Arkansas signee secured the individual title with a nine-under 133 as the sole golfer to finish under par.

In the team standings, Carl Albert was the runner-up, and Duncan finished third. Miah Luong led Carl Albert with a 160, placing fourth.

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Class 3A: Sequoyah Tahlequah wins 1st state championship

Where Beans Factor goes, a team championship follows.

During the past season, Factor led Ada to its first Class 4A girls golf state title. Then she arrived at Sequoyah Tahlequah for her junior year and helped the program reach the same milestone.

With a 686, Sequoyah Tahlequah secured its first girls golf state championship, finishing 21 strokes ahead of runner-up Tulsa Holland Hall at Lincoln Park Golf Course. Factor, the individual runner-up, had Sequoyah Tahlequah’s best score with a 150. In the second round, she made four birdies, capping the tournament with a birdie on the 18th hole.

Megan Kalapura of Holland Hall won the individual title with a 145, and Tulsa Cascia Hall freshman Lorelai Efaw shot a 152 for third place.

More: Oklahoma high school golf: OSSAA Class 6A-2A girls state tournament results

Class 2A: OCA’s Avery Haddock caps career with title

Avery Haddock refused to fall behind.

After a series of bogeys, the Oklahoma Christian Academy senior fired back-to-back birdies on the 12th and 13th holes. That sudden spark helped Haddock cap her high school golf career with a Class 2A individual title.

Haddock carded a 150 through two rounds to win by four strokes. Defending individual champion Jaci Hartman finished as the runner-up, and fellow Turner senior Josey Cavitt followed with a 156.

Reigning team champion Turner dominated with a 646, winning by 154 strokes.

Although no team stood a chance against the dynamo, Haddock defeated all of Turner’s individuals, becoming the first OCA girls golfer to take the crown in school history. Although the wind picked up in Weatherford during the second round, Haddock preserved her first-round lead as OCA coach Brandon McCool offered encouragement.

“We kind of set goals throughout the round, mini-goals,” McCool said. “She was struggling early, though, but ended up coming up clutch the last several holes, so it was good to see.”

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Stillwater wins Oklahoma Class 6A girls golf state championship

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