Paced by a new school record, the Nation Ford Falcons easily took home the Region 3 girls golf title for the first time in school history Monday.
The Falcons shot a 345 as a team for a new school record and was one of three schools to qualify for next week’s Upper State championship tournament. The 18-hole region tournament was held at a neutral location at the Chester Golf Club, so that no one team would have an advantage. Apparently, Nation Ford didn’t get that memo and won the tournament by 39 strokes over second place team Clover.
Northwestern’s Kayleigh Reinke was the individual medalist, shooting an even par 72 (36-36).
Nation Ford head coach Jaybe Shackleford knew his team had a good chance to win coming into the tournament after finishing the regular season 11-0 and having placing fourth in the Trojan Invitational, its only tournament of the season. But even he was surprised at the score they posted at the region tournament.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Herald
“I am a little surprised to shoot that low,” he said. “I’m not sure how we did it. Golf is just one of those games. They had a really good day.”
Not only did the team set a school record, but Zoe Bowers set a school record as an individual with a one over par 73. She shot a round of two under 34 on the front nine and a 39 on the back nine. She said she wasn’t surprised at her team winning the tournament, but was surprised at her score individually.
“This tournament is where it all came together for us,” Bowers said. “We have been working real hard all year.”
Bowers said that she felt some pressure after making the turn to keep her score under par on the back nine as well.
“The back nine is a lot harder,” she said.
Nation Ford had four of its five golfers make the All-Region team, which consisted of the top eight players. Following Bowers’ 73 was an 87 (42-45) from Eileen Zeoli, a 91 (46-45) from Amber Bellamy and a 94 (44-50) from Katherine Mann. Shackleford said he feels good about finishing in the top eight next week at the Upper State tournament to qualify for the State tournament Oct. 22-23 at Mid-Carolina Country Club.
“If we can duplicate that score, I feel like we will be on the way to state,” he said.
Clover and Fort Mill will follow Nation Ford into the Upper State tournament, which will be held at Rock Hill’s Waterford Country Club Oct. 15. Clover finished second with a 384 and was led by its All-Region player Ginger Pitts, who shot a 92 (47-45). She was followed with a 96 (46-50) from Mallory Dover and a pair of 98s from Teryn Dalton (42-56) and Taylor Osborne (44-54).
Fort Mill was led by its All-Region player in Maggie Blackwell with an 88 (43-45) as they shot a 396 as a team, good enough for third place. Blackwell’s score was followed with a 96 (45-51) from Ava Delardi and a 103 (49-54) from Allie Barnes. The Jackets finished their scoring with a 109 (56-53) from Lyric Smith.
Fort Mill head coach Brad Mercer said his team came a long way from the start of the season, where some of the girls had never even played more than nine holes of golf at a time.
“We only played one other 18-hole tournament this season,” Mercer said. “We made significant improvements from earlier in the year. The girls really battled.”
Northwestern was fourth with 406, led by medalist Reinke, who won the tournament by one stroke over Nation Ford’s Bowers. Rock Hill was fifth with 460 strokes, led by an 89 (41-48) from Katie Warner. Both Warner and Reinke qualified for next week’s Upper State tournament as individual players and made the All-Region team as well.