KEYSVILLE, Ga. — A state championship was already in the bag, but Gainesville’s Morgan Reece still took a long look at her birdie putt. When the ball hit the cup, she let loose an uncharacteristically energetic fist pump as her teammates cheered from just beyond the second green.
On the second hole of a sudden-death playoff, Reece beat Cairo’s Kayla Wilbourn to claim low medalist runner-up, and Gainesville
celebrated a Class AAA girls golf state title.
“We’re back,” coach Clay McDonald said of a program that hadn’t hoisted a state title trophy since winning in 2003 and 2004. “These are experiences that are going to help take us forward again since we’re so young. I just hope that they’re embracing these moments and enjoying them.”
Gainesville’s three sophomores and a freshman qualified for the one-day state tournament at Applewood Golf Course, and they beat the rest of the field by eight strokes. Reece’s 80 and Meg Callahan’s 86 gave the squad a 166 total to beat runner-up Carrollton, which finished at 174.
“Honestly, the past two weeks have been terrible for me, and I hit some awful shots today,” Reece said. “So I was terrified in the playoff, but once I was on the tee box it all went away.”
On the same par-5 second where Reece posted a double bogey earlier in the day – a score that included a swing and miss – she made birdie to win the playoff.
Sophomore Madeline Harr (87) and freshman Averi Smith (106) also competed for Gainesville, but the state championship scoring took only each team’s top two rounds.
Dalton’s Brendie Rockholt won the individual state title with 78.
Grovetown and Burke County competed as the Region 3-AAA representatives and finished 10th and 11th. Danielle Reynolds led the Lady Warriors with 89, while region low medalist Tiffany Farmer of Burke County posted 94.
Hephzibah freshman Brittany Washington qualified as an individual but shot 133 on her home course.
“I kind of took myself out of the game. On hole 9, my favorite club (hybrid 3) broke, and that kind of threw me off,” she said. “At least I can say I made it to state. This is only my second year playing.”