Powerful Lexington girls golf team at peak for state finals

10/27/2013 1:21 AM

10/27/2013 1:22 AM

Heading into the Class 4A girls golf championships, to be played Monday and Tuesday at Greer’s Willow Creek, the Lexington Wildcats look for low marks.

As they attempt to repeat as state champions, the Wildcats could set the state record if they can match the 278 they shot on Oct. 22 in the Lower State qualifier. It was the lowest score shot by a girls team in state history.

Lexington’s top four scored par or below, and their No. 5 notched a 73.

“Each girl has played really well on different days, but last week was the first time we got everybody all together to play their best game, on the same day,” said coach Brandon Smith.

Led by Lauren Stephenson, who shot 8 under, the Wildcats are hunting for their ninth state title in 10 seasons.

“I won’t say we aim to match that (score), but our girls are going to go out and do the absolute best that they can, and see where we’re at after the first round,” Smith said. “Let’s just make sure we’re in position to have a chance to win going into the final round.”

The Wildcats are not the only team looking to make some history at Willow Creek. Second-year program White Knoll placed fourth in the Lower State to qualify for its first state tournament.

Led by seventh-grader Jensen Castle’s 74, the Timberwolves have made drastic improvement over their first season. Their region score of 359 was nearly 100 strokes better than their 2012 result. The qualifier was 26 strokes better than the program’s previous low.

Nineteen of those shots came from improved play by No. 3 Mackenzie West and No. 4 Jen Curtis.

“If they continue to improve at No. 3 and No. 4, that’s really what will make the difference for us,” said Timberwolves coach Darren Castle, Jensen Castle’s father.

“When the season started, the goal was to qualify for the state championship and improve every time we play and that’s what we’ve done,” said Castle.

“If you look at what our program’s done from where we started, it’s amazing,” Castle said. “Our thinking is to appreciate the moment and there’s no expectation,” said Castle.

Lexington has a leg up on Upper State winner South Pointe, which shot a 309 at the qualifier. Wade Hampton and Spartanburg are the other top performers from the Upper State. Dutch Fork is also in the running.

The title tournament begins at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, with Stephenson grouped with South Pointe leader Chandler Case.

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