There’s no feeling quite like winning the first championship in program history, and more often than not, that feeling is impossible to match.
However, this is not the case for Lambert girls’ golf team; rather, the Lady Longhorns, who just earned their second straight Class AAAAAA championship, are relishing their latest championship more than their last.
Given how difficult it is to repeat, especially in the highest classification, it’s easy to understand.
“It’s a whole lot harder to [win state] more than one time,” Lambert head coach Joel Posey said. “So that makes it even better for us. I was more excited this time than last, and the girls were super excited, as well.”
In 2010, the school’s inaugural golf season, Lambert finished third in Class AAAA, followed by two straight second place finishes in 2011 and 2012. Last year, their first in Class AAAAAA, the Lady Longhorns got their crown—and on Monday, at the Gordon Lakes Golf Course, established themselves as a Georgia powerhouse.
Lambert was able to cruise to a state title without much adversity, as Walton finished in second 19 shots behind the Longhorns with a 243. Walton edged Peachtree Ridge, which ended the day with a 246.
“We were ready for this,” said Posey. “I wanted to go down there and show everyone how good these girls are. It was fun to watch them play at a whole new level.”
Lambert was led by sophomore Kayley Marschke, who earned low medalist honors with an even-par 72. Junior Michaela Owen, who is graduating early to attend Auburn, shot a 4-over 76, as did sophomore Lauren Lightfritz — good for sixth overall in the event.
Freshman Christine McDonnell shot an 84: the highest of any Longhorn, but also the 20th best score out of 68 participants.
Marschke’s performance came as no surprise, as she was the low medalist in every event this season.
South Forsyth finished a team total of 318. Amanda Jackson earned the best score for the Lady War Eagles with a 104, followed by Devlin Sirna (105), Courtney Elmore (109) and Lexi Elmore (116).
The Lady War Eagles were missing the services of their No. 1 golfer, Minji Kang, who was participating in the U.S. Open Amateur Qualifier on the same day. While Kang’s presence wouldn’t have lifted South into title contention, her absence brought down the team score considerably.
“With the players we had, I thought there were times in their 18 holes that they did very well on,” said South head coach Matt Loveless. “There were times when they got in a little bit of trouble, maybe a particular hole, but I thought we played well all things considered.”
Despite the underwhelming results, state should serve as a learning experience for a South roster that lacked a strong veteran presence with just one senior and no juniors.
“Any time you’re around good golfers is a good measuring stick to see what it takes to be at the top—whether it playing against them or just seeing their scores,” said Loveless. “Any time they can see people their own age that are playing that well, it reminds us, ‘Hey, we can do that, too.’”
West Forsyth’s Isabella Skinner competed as an individual, and shot the second best score of the tournament with a 1-over par 73. Competing in the AAAAA state tournament, Forsyth Central's Hannah Walker shot a 19-over par 91 at Jones Creek Golf Course.
Though Lambert will spend the foreseeable future enjoying its most recent title, a third straight championship has become the next goal for the program. And with so many talented underclassmen in tow, such an achievement is well within reach.
Should the Longhorns earn the trifecta, they’ll become the first girls team to ever win three straight outright state titles in the highest classification of Georgia.
“Overall we have a young team—a young team that is actually just starting to hit its stride,” said Posey. “Our sophomores are improving, especially Kayley. We’re only getting better from here.”