For the first time in the school’s 27-year history, the Greenbrier girls’ golf team is a state champion.
The Lady Pack entered the state championship tournament with a target on their back. They began the 36-hole tournament Monday at Fields Ferry Golf Club in Calhoun with a 20-stroke lead but found themselves trailing Northview through five holes Tuesday.
“We were up 1 through 18 holes and us and Northview from the rest of the field. Our team got off to a really tough start,” coach Casey Heckathorn said. “Across the board over the first five holes, we went from being up 1 to 9 or 10 down and obviously things weren’t trending our way. Northview was playing well and we just came out of the gate sluggish.”
After the first five holes, two things happened: Greenbrier rallied and Northview faltered.
“They put a lot of pressure on Northview, who kind of folded a little bit, too,” Heckathorn said. “They played their worst golf their last five holes, so it was a total flip of the script.”
Avery Simpson was first out for the Lady Pack Tuesday and set the tone for the team over the final 13 holes.
“Weirdly, the group just kind of gathered together. She just kind of kept us steady and the rest of the girls just started picking up their pace,” Heckathorn said. “Reagan Henderson, for example, was 6-over through five holes and ended up 7-over for the whole round. After those first five holes, she played 1-over and birdied No. 18, which was cool.”
Adyson Lukich finished fourth overall in the tournament, shooting an 81 on the par-74 course. While the players aren’t together as a group, Heckathorn believes there’s something to the idea of momentum becoming contagious.
“They’re separated on the course and they’re obviously not talking to each other every hole,” he said. “For some reason I’ve seen it go both directions. Whole teams do have those ebbs and flows together and I don’t think we played our absolute cleanest, best golf either day, but in a 36-hole tournament you’re going to have to survive something. We survived that early storm and it showed a lot of guts to keep fighting for each other.”
This Greenbrier team is graduating just two seniors in Manuela Pacheco Gonzalez and Anna Wicklum. Both are set up to play college golf at Webber International University and Methodist University, respectively.
“They were a big part of our success this weekend, but we’ve got lots of youth and lots of hungry girls,” Heckathorn said. “We’re in a good place right now.”
This article originally appeared on the Augusta Chronicle: Greenbrier girls golf roars back to win first GHSA state championship