High school girls golf: East wins fifth straight county title

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 12, 2021

By Mike London

SALISBURY — High school girls don’t get to play many 18-hole matches, so breaking 100 is sort of a standard.

East Rowan’s golf team went 4-for-4 in that regard on Monday at Corbin Hills. Sophomore medalist Hannah Waddell shot 76, teammates Emma Callahan, Emma Cornelison and Addison Queen turned in cards in the 90s, and the Mustangs took another Rowan County Championship.

“The first time we’ve played 18 this season,” East coach Tinsley Merrell said. “It was a beautiful day for golf, not too hot. We’re proud to have the top four scores in the county, with all four girls under 100.”

The best three scores count toward the team score in girls golf. Callahan shot 91, while Cornelison checked in at 96 to complete East’s team total of 263. East won by 50 strokes, with Salisbury second.

Queen shot 98 to give the Mustangs half of the eight-person All-Rowan County team.

Also making All-Rowan County were Salisbury’s Sophie Chmiel (102), Sydney Hlavacek (104) and Courtney Williams (107). Williams tied with North Rowan’s Azariah Elder for the last spot, so the all-county squad was expanded from seven to eight players.

Hlavacek was the Central Carolina Conference Player of the Year and the Hornets easily won took the CCC team championship.

“We hadn’t played with the Salisbury girls this season and we were looking forward to competing with them today,” Merrell said. “I saw their girls hit some great shots, some wow shots. They had moments of brilliance.”

South Rowan had the largest team with six players.

It was the fifth straight Rowan championship for East, which won the South Piedmont Conference Tournament and placed second behind Lake Norman Charter for the regular season.

East has been able to keep plugging along even after the retirement of long-time coach Rhett Teems. Merrell stepped into those big shoes. Teems has been a staple for Rowan golf — boys and girls — for a long time.

“I’ve known some of our girls for years and I walked with them and cheered for them last year and got to learn a lot,” Merrell said. “Coach Teems asked me to take it over, and it hasn’t been all that hard. I’m enjoying it. These are some sweet girls.”

East has managed to stay on the top in the county without Carlee Patterson, who was runner-up to Waddell in the county tournament last season. Patterson made the choice to focus on academics instead of athletics. That’s always a decision that’s easy to respect.

“We miss Carlee, but Emma Callahan is a senior captain and has come through as a solid No. 2 seed all season,” Merrell said. “That third scorer for us has either been Emma Cornelison, who has only been playing for about a year and a half, or Addison. They challenge each other. They’ve both done very well.”

Waddell is the bright spot for Rowan girls golf right now. This was the sophomore’s second straight county win. She won the county event at Corbin Hills last season that was shortened to nine holes.

“Hannah stays even-keel mentally and is the most consistent,” Merrell said. “She stays away from the big numbers. She might make a bogey now and then, but she can walk away from it and make her next shot a good one.”

Waddell was SPC Player of the Year and won most of her SPC matches against stout competition. She shot as low as 36 for nine holes.

While most of the golfers were all over the place on the par-3 No. 5 hole, Waddell calmly put her tee shot on the green.

Merrell also watched Waddell make a powerful drive on the uphill par-5 18th where she nailed a birdie putt.

Waddell’s 76 was the best 18-hole score in the Rowan County Championships since Salisbury’s Grace Yatawara won with a 73 at Warrior in 2015.

The golf regionals are coming up next Tuesday.

South Piedmont Conference girls will be competing in the West Regional in Maiden at Glen Oaks. Central Carolina Conference girls will be competing in the 1A/2A Central Regional at Monroe Country Club.