CONWAY — Louise Oxner has been more than just a player this season for the Greenville High girls golf team. The senior has been relied upon to also fill the unofficial roles of recruiter, mentor, instructor and assistant to first-year coach Jack Turpin.
She performed all of her adopted duties well enough to lead the Red Raiders to the Class AAA state championship.
Greenville shot a 327-329–656 to claim a 10-shot victory Tuesday over Pickens in the state tournament at the Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina.
Oxner, the 2008 AAA state champion who has now finished in the top-10 in the past five state championships, participated as an individual last year because Greenville struggled just to field a team and didn’t qualify.
“She’s kind of pulled the team along and been a really good role model, just getting the girls that really don’t play golf out there and getting them practicing,” said Turpin, a former club professional. “She was a big help for us this year. She’s kind of been the assistant coach, mom, whatever you want to call her.”
Oxner, who has signed to play at Louisville next fall, won the individual state title as an eighth grader and was a runner-up to McKenzie Talbert of Strom Thurmond last year. She finished sixth Tuesday at 77-79–156.
“It’s a lot more exciting to win it as a team because you have your whole team to celebrate with,” Oxner said. “But you feel individual accomplishment when you win it as an individual. I’m glad that I’ve won it as both. I feel that’s pretty cool. Not many people get that chance.
“… I never thought we would ever win a state championship. We’ve worked hard this year as a team.”
Freshmen Carly Burkhardt and Victoria Huskey each finished inside the top seven with scores of 77-77–154 and 81-77–158, respectively, junior Aubrey Lauderdale shot a 92-96–188 and senior co-captain Elsie Bickmann shot a 121-102–223. Only the top four scores each round count toward the team total.
“We’ve got two super freshmen this year,” Turpin said. “They’re kind of neck-and-neck and both of them played fantastic this week. … Our top three were really good and it was getting that fourth score.”
Wren’s Smith medalist
Bluffton moved up from Class AAA to AAAA this year after winning two of the past three state titles at the Hackler Course, but Cayla Smith showed competitors that the class isn’t getting any relief with Wren High moving down from AAAA.
The school won the 2011 AAAA state title, and the Wren junior won the individual title by a stroke over Academic Magnet’s Annika Bovender with a 3-over 72-75–147. “To go from team to individual champion is very cool,” Smith said.
Smith is also Wren’s third consecutive individual state champion, following Kaitlin Matheson in 2010 and Maegan Higgins in 2011. Matheson is now playing at South Carolina and Higgins is at Wofford. “So it was fun to keep that going,” Smith said. “Hopefully we’ll have one more next year.”
Smith defeated the AAA state champions of the past four years in Oxner and Talbert, a Clemson commitment who finished fourth at 152 after posting scores of 139, 138 and 145 at the Hackler Course over the past three years.
“I finished ahead of some great golfers,” said Smith, who won the Upstate Junior Classic and Orange Jacket Classic this summer and is uncommitted. “I knew coming in that I had good competition. I knew McKenzie would be playing good and Louise and Annika, too. … I have my name amongst good company. It’s exciting to win and let my practice pay off.”
Honoring a classmate
Hartsville finished sixth, but the significance of the round wasn’t necessarily what the Red Foxes did but what they were wearing when they did it. They played Monday’s first round in black shirts, but opted to wear red shirts with the letters “Rouse” across the chest Tuesday.
Ronald Rouse, a senior football player at Hartsville, passed out on the field and died during the school’s Homecoming game a couple weeks ago, and it was later discovered he had an enlarged heart.
“We’re wearing the shirts in memory of him,” Hartsville player Courtney Kraus said. “All of our school has been getting together and wearing red at school in memory of him. When we won Lower State we had these shirts on, too. So after our first day here doing a little bad we put on our Rouse shirts hoping he would be looking over us and watching us today.”
The night before last week’s Lower State tournament the players took it upon themselves to go to Wal-Mart and buy red shirts and ironed on the ‘Rouse’ lettering. “They did that themselves before Lower State last week and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Hartsville coach Al Borkenhagen said. “They’re good golfers but they’re better people. They did good.”
Hartsville junior Eden Howard epitomized the spirit of the team by attempting to play Tuesday despite suffering from what’s believed to be damage to ligaments and tendons in her left hand. She was in extreme pain and had to have competitors help her replace her head covers following shots.
She shot a 73 despite the injury in the first round and was just one shot out of the lead, but she was unable to continue after a few holes Tuesday. The doctor she visited said the injury is a result of practicing too much. “I don’t know how she got as far as she got,” Borkenhagen said.
Falvey finishing up
St. James senior Alexa Falvey played in her first and last state championship this week. She recorded the best finish among players on the four Grand Strand teams participating, placing 17th at 85-80–165. “It was definitely cool to make it to states as a senior with my team,” she said.
Falvey was just 2-over par through 15 holes in her second round but double bogeyed each of the final three holes. “The nerves got to me and I just didn’t finish strong, though it’s much improved from [Monday], which I’m proud of,” Falvey said. “I don’t think it was nerves on the 16th hole I just got an unlucky bounce out of the woods. It was definitely nerves on the 18th hole. There were a ton of people standing around me. It was a tough finish.”
Falvey was the Region VII-AAA champion as a junior and runner-up this season to North Myrtle Beach’s Madison Elliott, who shot an 85-87–172 this week. Falvey has been selected to play in the North-South All-Star Matches on Nov. 2-3 in Chapin.
She has a 4.0 grade-point average and will perform a jazz dance in the upcoming St. James pageant on Dec. 1. “It’s my chance to still dance because I kind of gave it up for golf,” Falvey said. “In my little spare time from golf, I’m practicing my dance.”
She’s unsure where she’ll be attending school next year, but would like to play golf in college. “I just have to wait and see what comes up,” Falvey said.
Class AAA Girls Golf State Championship
Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina (par 72, 5,600 yards)
1, Greenville 656; 2, Pickens 666; 3, Daniel 711; 4, Wren 727; 5, Hilton Head 734; 6, Hartsville 744; 7, McBee 747; 8, Eastside 748; 9, Waccamaw 751; 10, St. James 764; 11, Airport 765; 12, Socastee 775; 13, Chapman 781; 14, A.C. Flora 794; 15, North Myrtle Beach 800; 16, Union County 850.
1, Cayla Smith, Wren, 72-75—147; 2, Annika Bovender, Academic Magnet, 75-73—148; 3, Madison Cox, Pickens, 77-74—151; 4, McKenzie Talbert, Strom Thurmond, 74-78—152; 5, Carly Burkhardt, Greenville, 77-77—154; 6, Louise Oxner, Greenville, 77-79—156; T7, Dallas Odem, Crescent, 78-80—158; T7, Victoria Huskey, Greenville, 81-77—158; 9, Makalyn Poole, Palmetto, 79-80—159.
Grand Strand teams
Waccamaw (376-375—751): Anna Montgomery 87-88—175, Danielle Royer 93-87—180, Stephanie Royer 96-89—185, Conner Graham 100-111—211, Martha Henry 126-116—242.
St. James (376-388—764): Alexa Falvey 85-80—165, Kelli Smith 90-95—185, Jordan White 105-101—206, Morgan Stanchak 96-112—208, Steely Hayes 108-115—223.
Socastee (401-374—775): Collie Muirhead 102-82—184, Meghan Dresser 94-92—186, Kelly Daniels 100-97—197, Lawson Devers 105-103—208, Kelsey Gammon 123-129—252.
North Myrtle Beach (399-401—800): Madison Elliott 85-87—172, Elena Long 98-95—193, Kyle Chandler 103-109—212, Erin Hershelman 113-110—223, Meghan Woods 113-114—227.
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.