Bishop England picked an opportune time to win the school’s first state title in girls golf.
If it didn’t happen this year, it might have been a while.
With reclassification looming that will add larger schools to their state competition next year, the Battling Bishops and junior Kathleen Sumner dominated the S.C. High School Girls Golf Class A-AA State Championship at Black Bear Golf Club on Monday and Tuesday.
A year after the team and Sumner were both runners-up at Black Bear, the Battling Bishops earned a 32-stroke win over runner-up St. Joseph’s Catholic School of Greenville with a 112-over 688, and the Florida State commitment led them to the title with a six-stroke win for medalist honors at 2-under 72-70–142.
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“The whole season was like, ‘We’ve got to win state. We’ve got to win state. We’ve got to win state,’ and we won it,” Sumner said. “We’ve been looking forward to this for so long. I think we’ve all grown a lot and I’m proud of them.
“We said we’d get them this year, and we did, so ‘yeah.’ ”
Aynor High had the top finish among Grand Strand teams, taking fifth place on its home course for the second consecutive year.
Bishop England will have a difficult time defending its state title next year, and other competing schools this week will have more of a challenge just qualifying for the state championship.
The S.C. High School League is expanding its classes from four to five, so both Class AAAAA and Class AAAA will have their own girls golf state championships, and schools in Class AAA will drop down into a combined A-AAA state championship.
“They’ve never said they’ve been nervous before until today. It means a lot to them right now,” said seven-year Battling Bishops coach Christine Ronco, whose team was a runner-up to McBee last year by 50 strokes.
Bishop England’s five team members have played together for the past two years, and senior Kellen Haas and juniors Sumner and Emma Wofford have been together four years.
“The girls played with a lot of confidence,” Ronco said. “They pulled it together and became more and more of a team, helping each other out.”
Sumner improved her state championship score seven strokes after finishing seven strokes behind Academic Magnet’s Annika Bovender last year.
Sumner made seven birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey over the two rounds to finish six strokes ahead of runner-up Carly Lyvers of St. Joseph’s.
“She is the most humble human being I’ve ever met,” Ronco said of Sumner. “She keeps her cool. She’s sort of like the mom of the team. She wants everybody to do well and encourages people. She knows when to have fun and when to be serious. Since seventh, eighth, maybe ninth grade, she didn’t want any attention at all. She didn’t want to be the star. She just doesn’t like the spotlight on her, she wants to make sure it’s the whole team.”
Aynor finished fifth last year in the program’s first state championship appearance, and was 82 strokes behind the Battling Bishops on Tuesday.
“Coming into it we wanted to at least get fifth, like we did last year,” Aynor senior Bailey Richardson said. “We knew Bishop England was going to be strong because they finished second last year.”
Richardson shot a 91-82–173 that was one shot out of the top 10 and all-state honors, and her final round included a 1-under-par 35 on the back nine.
She has been selected to participate in the S.C. North-South All-Star Golf Matches and expects to be a member of The Citadel women’s golf team next year, possibly through a combination of academic and athletic scholarships.
“I was hoping we would do better this year because it’s my last year, but golf is also an individual sport and I’m proud of how I did today,” Richardson said.
Team scores–1, Bishop England 688; 2, St. Joseph’s 720; 3, Powdersville 723; 4, Pendleton 768; 5, Aynor 770; 6, McBee 787; 7, Ware Shoals 811; 8, Greer Middle College 819; 9, Chesterfield 849; 10, Southside Christian 869; 11, Christ Church 871; 12, Landrum 923; 13, Keenan 948; 14, Waccamaw 978; 15, Loris 1066.
Top 10 individuals (all-state)–1, Kathleen Sumner, Bishop England, 72-70–142; 2, Carly Lyvers, St. Joseph’s, 75-73–148; 3, Peyton Gillespie, Christ Church, 75-74–149; 4, Emily Cox, Andrew Jackson, 78-73–151; 5, Kennedy Carroll, Bishop England, 80-78–158; 6, Emma Wofford, Bishop England, 85-78–153; 7, Amber Winburn, McBee, 86-83–169; 8, Madison Jordan, Pendleton, 87-83–170; 9, Mattie Dew, St. Joseph’s, 86-85–171; 10, Breland Foster, Powdersville, 82-90–172.
Area schools–AYNOR (391-379–770): Bailey Richardson 91-82–173, Mary Kate Richardson 89-90–179, Rachael Wilkinson 104-99–203, Taylor Hughes 107-110–217, Maisa Lennon 110-108–218. WACCAMAW (503-475–978): Marlee Lord 121-108–229, Caroline Lankford 124-118–242, Brianna Hammond 125-125–250, Lauren Maser 136-124–260, Riley Young 133-136–269. LORIS (538-528–1066): Chessa Lee 131-118–249, Bailey Tyler 132-134–266, Carrie Brown 134-134–268, Casey Brown 144-144–288, Haley Sarvis 141, Rebecca Whisnet 142.