Lambert’s girls golf team won its fourth consecutive state championship Monday, edging region rival Alpharetta by six strokes at Sunset Country Club in Moultrie.
For seniors Lauren Lightfritz and Kayley Marschke, the victory made for a career sweep at the state championships—an unprecedented accomplishment they set out to achieve after their first title as freshmen.
Another Lambert championship wasn’t a surprise, but the Lady Longhorns were led by sophomore Kate Owens, who shot a 73 to walk off the course as the tournament’s low medalist. Owens shot an 81 at last year’s state meet.
The result wasn’t a surprise to head coach Joel Posey or Lightfritz, who has practiced with and mentored Owens for the last six years at their home course, Laurel Springs Golf Club in Suwanee.
“I’m not surprised,” Posey said. “I actually told one of the coaches earlier in the day that people were going to be surprised by Kate since she was coming out of our four spot.”
“I am so proud of her,” Lightfritz said. “As a sophomore, it’s got to be a great honor for her to win state overall. I knew she could do it. She can shoot in the 60s.”
Owens wasn’t fathoming a low-medalist finish when the day began. Instead, she and junior Tiffany “Menji” Kang, formerly of South Forsyth, were worried about the pressure of going for a fourth-straight title with Lightfritz and Marschke entering their final round on the high school circuit.
“I told Menji and Kate to absolutely not think about it,” Lightfritz said. “Even though there was a ton of pressure, they had to forget about it and play their own game. We pulled it off.”
Marschke shot a 78, followed by Lightfritz’s 79 and Kang’s 85. Scores were high for every team in the field as small, dry greens made landing greens in regulation a frustratingly difficult challenge.
Owens got off to a hot start, shooting 2-under after six holes, but she felt like her round was in jeopardy after two bogeys and a double bogey on the next three holes flipped her score to 2-over at the turn.
While she transitioned from hole nine to 10, Posey stopped Owens and told her what he had told the others.
“I was actually pretty upset at the turn because I knew I was rocking it, I wanted to shoot under par and then it kind of blew up on me,” Owens said. “Then coach Posey, I heard him talking to the South (Forsyth) coach about how hard the course was and that 1-over would maybe win the entire thing. After hearing that it really got my energy back up and I went 1-under on the back.”
As Owens finished her round, her teammates cheered from the edge of the 18th green. They knew Owens had the low-medalist in the bag, but still had to wait around to see if they would hold on to the lead.
The players were understandably nervous until they found out Alpharetta’s No. 4 shot a 103, which meant the already-counted top three scores weren’t as low as Lambert’s with Owens’ 73 added in.
“Once we found out we all looked at each other and started screaming,” Lightfritz said. “This is bittersweet. When we were freshmen we never really expected it to turn out like this, but as the years went on we kept getting more talent. This year we had so much talent and played with so much confidence.”
“This was awesome,” Owens said. “I just wanted to do it for Lauren and Kayley. If I was in their place and could have a ring every year from high school, I would be ecstatic, so I wanted to do this for them. Also last year I shot an 81, so to come back and prove myself was a big deal.”
Lightfritz and Marschke will move on to Mercer and Auburn on Division I golf scholarships, respectively, but that doesn’t mean that Lambert’s golf dynasty is over.
“I told them they can do it again next year,” Lightfritz said. “They are just as talented as we are.”
“This fourth win was the best one,” Posey said. “It means the most to me because I really wanted my seniors to go out with four. That meant more than anything else.”
Boys Championship at Springhill Country Club
Lambert fell just two strokes short of clinching its second-straight state championship, but fell 294-296 to region foe Johns Creek, who was led by low-medalist Nic Cassidy (68). Spencer Ball finished fourth in the field with a 72, while five of Lambert’s six competitors broke 80. North Forsyth’s Nick Lasseter, competing at state for the first time, shot an 80 as an individual.
Central’s Walker finishes top 10
Hannah Walker didn’t shoot as well as she did at last season’s state tournament, but she placed better.
The Forsyth Central shot an 81 to tie with Columbus’s Amy Clark and Glynn Academy’s Olivia Hickson for seventh in Class AAAAA. Glynn Academy’s Julianna Collett was low medalist with a 75.
Walker shot a 79 last season to finish ninth overall.
Class AAAAAA Golf State Championship Results
Girls (Sunset Country Club, Moultrie)
1. Lambert (230): Kate Owens 73, Kayley Marschke 78, Lauren Lightfritz 79, Tiffany Kang 85
10. South Forsyth (272): Kelly Strickland 83, Samantha Bearden 94, Lindsey Choe 95, Amanda Jackson 96
Individuals: Allie Fletcher, West Forsyth, 83
Boys (Springhill Country Club, Tifton)
2. Lambert (296): Spencer Ball 72, Brett Barron 74, Grant Sutliff 75, Stephen Foernsler 75, Jordan Baker 78, Kevin Stine 87
Individual: Nick Lasseter, North Forsyth, 80