RALEIGH — Green Hope’s girls’ golf team was united Monday while competing in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 4A East regional.
Each player kept a small green stone in her pocket while playing in a field of 61 golfers at Wildwood Green Golf Club. Coach Dona Lerner said the gesture was an example of the team’s togetherness.
“This team has the ability to feed off each other’s energy like no other team I’ve ever coached,” said Lerner, who has coached at Green Hope since 2006. “They truly believe in one another. Any time any one of them felt alone or distressed, they rubbed the stone and they realized they had four other teammates out there.”
The Falcons, this year’s Southwest Wake Athletic Conference champions, won the regional title with a team score of 236 to qualify for Monday’s state championship at Pinehurst No. 6.
Heritage, the Cap Eight’s top team, finished second at 252 and Holly Springs (259) finished third to qualify. The three teams will each send their top three golfers to Pinehurst.
Green Hope will be represented by Meghan Symonds (74), Reilly Thomas (79) and Sophie Riegel (83). Symonds was the region’s individual runner-up.
Green Hope’s fourth and fifth players Amanda Yannoni (84) and Selena Turner (87) will also compete at states after qualifying as two of the region’s next 17 low scoring golfers sent to compete as individuals. If Yannoni or Turner score in the top three, it will count towards Green Hope’s score just as if it were Symonds, Thomas or Riegel. It’s an advantage for Lerner’s Falcons.
“We have a very deep team,” Lerner said. “On any given day, any of our players can be within a shot of each other. My expectations this year have been fulfilled. I thought that we would come out on top in our conference. I thought we would do very well here at regionals, but I didn’t know if we could win it, and I expect that we will be very competitive next week.”
The top individual golfer also hailed from the SWAC, as Athens Drive freshman Emilia Migliaccio led the pack, shooting 70.
“I practiced really hard the last few weeks to get ready for regionals,” said Migliaccio, who also won the SWAC individual title this year. “I played pretty good. I was lipping out on everything, so besides that I played pretty good. I hit 16 greens, so that was very good for me. For states I’m just going to keep doing the same thing, and hopefully more birdies can drop.”
Rhea Bhatia (75) and Kendra Dalton (77), who qualified as individuals last year, led Heritage to its first team state championship appearance in the program’s history.
Hannah Whitt (100) will round out the Heritage team in her first trip to states.
Holly Springs was led by Leigha Holt (83), Courtney Normand (84) and Natalie Petersen (93), who will represent the team at the state championship.
“Our goal was to do well at regionals, and we did that, so I’m proud of the girls,” said Holly Springs coach Tamara Cole, adding that Holt and Norman competed as individuals at states last year. “I think we’ll have more confidence going in. Hopefully we can finish well in states and represent our conference and team well.”
Apex’s Madison Merritt (91) was the only other SWAC player to qualify.
Millbrook’s Kristen Holman (91) and Merritt topped Fuquay-Varina’s Brittany Greene and Panther Creek’s Maggie Basile, who also shot 91, in a playoff for the final spots.