Lambert's quest of its fourth consecutive state championship in girl's golf got off to a hot start on Monday, as the Lady Longhorns edged Alpharetta by nine strokes at the Achasta Golf Club in Dahlonega to win their seventh consecutive region title.
Senior Lauren Lightfritz led the field with a 66, earning first-place medalist honors over Alpharetta's Alejandra Ayala by three strokes. Lightfritz’s score is a Lambert record, breaking current teammate Kaylee Marschke’s 67 from two years ago at the same course.
“I got off to a really good start and the momentum just kept going,” Lightfritz said. “Every part of my game was spot on and I felt super comfortable. What kept pushing me forward was the fact I knew this was my last region tournament and I wanted to go out with a bang. I wanted to do it for the team.”
Former South Forsyth golfer Tiffany Kang shot a 74 and Kate Owens shot 76 to round out the scoring, making up for a rare 81 from Marschke, who teed off from the No. 2 slot.
“Honestly, we have the strongest team we’ve had in seven years. That’s the crazy part about it,” Lambert head coach Joel Posey said. “I wanted the girls to go out there and have fun. They have each other’s backs, and when they go out and enjoy each other that’s when they play their best.”
South Forsyth's girls finished fourth to earn the final qualifying slot for state and will compete in the upcoming sectionals. Kelly Strickland led the Lady War Eagles with a 79, followed by an 82 from Sam Bearden and an 83 from Amanda Jackson.
Johns Creek was the third place finisher to round out the state qualifiers. Lambert will bypass sectionals and go straight to state.
South's qualification came by beating Northview by just one stroke, 244-245. South head coach Ronnie Davis thought the close finish was a reminder of the quality of golf in the region. Northview will not compete in postseason despite beating the state cut—a round of 300--by 55 strokes.
“It was so close between us and Northview, and now they're going home,” Davis said. “It really is a really tough region. There's a lot of regions out there that may not have as many teams shoot as low as we did, and Northview did.”
West Forsyth's Allie Fletcher qualified as an individual with a round of 74.
North Forsyth was the highlight on the boy's side, shooting a 294 to qualify for state in golf for the first time in its program's history. The Raiders beat South Forsyth by one stroke, and were six shots off of third-place Lambert.
The feat was even more impressive to head coach Rodney Moore because of the youth of his team, which was led by a freshman and three sophomores. Freshman Nick Lasseter, and sophomores Griffin Orzech and Matthew Workman shot 72, while Jackson Boone finished with a 78.
“I've known what our kids can do, but they just hadn't really brought it all together as a group before,” Moore, in his fifth year coaching the team, said. “Yesterday the conditions were great and we shot the score that I honestly think we can shoot all the time.”
North's qualification also carried extra meaning for the team—it was an accomplishment that had to be done without another excellent young golfer, Joe Dumphy, who passed away in late July from a car crash.
“Considering everything that has gone on, for us to do this was just really special,” Moore said. “We fought for (Dumphy). This is a big deal.”
John's Creek won the title with a score of 286, followed by a 287 from Alpharetta and a 288 from the Longhorns. Lambert's Spencer Ball and Kevin Stine each shot 70, with Stephen Foernsler following with a 73. Brett Barron and Jordan Baker each had counting scores of 75, followed by Grant Sutliff’s 77.
South Forsyth’s Barrett Hopper qualified for sectionals as an individual with a 70, which made him the low medalist among non-qualifying teams.