Lexington’s Graycn Burgess was tasked with bringing a state championship back home.
The junior, who’s committed to Clemson, will lead the Lady Wildcats in the first Class 5A state golf tournament beginning Monday in Columbia.
“At the beginning of the season, Coach (Smith) told me that this was my team,” Burgess said. “With no seniors, I would be the leader of the team.”
Burgess has been one of the top players in the state, and helped Lexington reclaim the Lower State championship a week ago. She medaled with a 70, leading the Lady Cats to a 312 team total.
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“We depend on (Graycn),” Lexington coach Brandon Smith said. “We know she is going to go out and shoot a great score. She hasn’t been worse than second the entire season.”
Lexington has enjoyed recent success at the state tournament, winning 11 of the past 13 Class 4A titles, but a runner-up finish last season helped spark a new attitude in Burgess.
“Last year’s loss in the state final was heartbreaking,” Burgess said. “It really set the tone for this season, and motivated this team to not let that happen again.”
Smith said there’s a different feel to this year’s team, mostly due to inexperience.
“We have a lot of new starters, and very few of them have state championship experience,” Smith said. “They have had some success this season, but none on this level.”
Lexington leads a trio of Region 5 teams into the state tournament, including Blythewood and White Knoll. Blythewood finished with 321, nine shots back of Lexington. All three teams finished with a higher score than the eventual Upper State champion. Blythewood was led Mary Talledo (74) and Parker Stalvey (75).
White Knoll qualified for the state tournament for the second consecutive year, and the third time in school history. The Lady Timberwolves hope another year of experience will give them a shot at their first title.
“This is the first year I’ve had more high school players than middle school players,” White Knoll coach Darin Castle said. “Our goal last year was to make the state tournament, and we finished sixth. This year, we’re looking to improve on that finish.”
White Knoll is led by the tandem of Jalen and Jensen Castle. Jalen shot a 73 at the Lower State tournament, finishing second to Burgess (70).
Chapin and A.C. Flora each earned a spot in the Class 4A tournament beginning Monday in Myrtle Beach. Both teams finished well enough at the Lower State tournament in Hartsville to garner invitations.