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GIRLS GOLF ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Christine McDonnell, Lambert
Christine McDonnell poses with a photo from her early golfing days. McDonnell graduated from Lambert this spring and is currently attending the United States Naval Academy. - photo by Micah Green

Christine McDonnell is in Annapolis, Maryland right now, in the midst of the U.S. Naval Academy’s Plebe Summer program, which consists of six weeks of intense training basically cut off from the outside world.

If she wants to reminisce on her high school golf career at Lambert, McDonnell will have to rely just on memories. Luckily for her, the ones she ended her senior season with are the best of her career.

“This past year, for me, was the most exciting of all of them,” McDonnell said on June 27 as she stood by the putting green at Laurel Springs Golf Club.

In her four years at Lambert, McDonnell was part of four state champion teams. She wasn’t a scoring player on 2016’s squad, but McDonnell’s senior season saw her play some of the best golf of her life in particularly critical moments for Lambert.

McDonnell positioned herself as one of the top golfers in Class 7A heading into the state tournament. At the Area 3-7A tournament, a strong start turned into what she called a few “hiccup holes,” but on the par-5 18th hole at Bridgemill Golf Club in Canton, McDonnell had an eagle to shoot even. It was the best score both in the area and in the entire class.

In the first round of the state tournament, though, a three-hour weather delay snarled McDonnell’s rhythm. She didn’t get to warm up before going back on the course, and she wound up shooting an 82 at the Chateau Elan Woodlands Course.

At that point, Lambert was tied with Mill Creek, who stood as the Longhorns’ strongest competitions and had the added boost of playing on their home course. McDonnell righted herself on the second day, though, pushing through sporadic rain and shooting a 76 to lead the Longhorns.

When Lambert and Mill Creek were still tied after the second round and had to go to a playoff, McDonnell made par on the par-4 first hole to help the Longhorns win the hole and put an end to the tournament.

“Just that one hole I remember that more than anything, because it was the last thing that I did in high school golf,” McDonnell said.

McDonnell’s interest in Navy developed from her relationship with her aunt and uncle, who went to the Air Force Academy. She had service academies in mind when looking for a place to play golf in college, and McDonnell settled in the Midshipmen after reaching out to the coaching staff and heading up to Annapolis to see the campus.

Her time at Lambert didn’t have much bearing on her collegiate future – most recruiting is done from junior golf tournaments, rather than high school events – but McDonnell still looks back on her time with the Longhorns as invaluable, as she got to experience the team element of the sport featured in the college game.

“It was cool to know that you had other people you could lean on while you were playing,” McDonnell said, “so that if you weren't having a great day, someone else was having their best day.”