Golf team wins state title by 26 strokes
Waccamaw High School’s girls golf team dominated the competition on Tuesday en route to a Class 3A state title.
The Warriors shot a two-day total of 661, 26 strokes better than Daniel High, the runners-up.
Anna Brown, a senior, had been dreaming of winning a state title since she joined the team as a seventh-grader.
“It’s indescribable. I can’t even put into words how grateful I am for the team and for everyone,” Brown said. “Everyone played great both days. To come together the final two days of [my] senior year to do it, it’s almost perfect.”
Brown shot a 157 to lead the Warriors. She and teammate Kayla Holek, a junior who shot a 163, were named to the All-State team.
“I’m proud of everybody,” Holek added.
Coach Todd Rodenbeck said it felt “amazing” to see the girls win.
“I’m happy for them and proud of them,” he added.
“It feels like our hard work paid off and it’s validating,” said Ella Bischof, a junior who shot a 171. “I feel like we deserved it. It feels good.”
Elizabeth Ashcraft, a junior who shot 174, agreed.
“We’ve been talking about it for awhile and now we’ve actually done it,” she said.
The Warriors held a six-shot lead after the first day of the tournament.
“It gave a lot of confidence just to know that there was a cushion there and to know that our [number] four and five [players] were really solid and so no matter what, Waccamaw’s got it,” Brown said.
“It gives you a lot of confidence because you’re like, ‘as long as we stay like we are right now then we’ll do good,’” said Victoria Gullo, a junior who shot a 174.
Daniel came in at 687. Seneca, the defending state champions, finished third with 697.
This year’s tournament took place at Coastal Carolina University’s Hackler Course. The Warriors played the course twice during the season.
“We just kept talking through the shots. Not too high and not too low,” Rodenbeck said. “They performed better than I could have ever imagined.”
“It’s crazy because we always come out here and we’re like, ‘what if we win the state championship.’ Then actually doing it is insane,” Gullo said.
One week before the state tournament, Waccamaw won the Lower State tournament by 50 strokes.
“It was definitely reassuring and it made us more certain of what we already knew we could do,” Bischof said. “It kind of reinforced what we had been trying to get at all year. It gave us a lot of confidence.”
Rodenbeck took over as coach early in the season when former coach Chuck Carr stepped down.
“This has been a great season,” Rodenbeck said. “The girls have been great. Just to watch them develop and come down to the wire and play some of the best golf of the year is what we planned.”
Rodenbeck was also the coach in 2005, the last time the girls won the state title.
“The game has changed a lot in almost 18 years. It’s 36 holes so it’s a two-day event,” Rodenbeck said. “This is just a new group and it feels the same. I’m excited for the school and the community but especially for these young ladies.”
Rodenbeck said the team really came together and was peaking at the end of the season.
“It was a huge momentum boost and it was good for all of us to know that we could do and we did it,” Brown said. “It was great for everyone to have the confidence. We came [into state] with a really good mindset.”
“I think we all just wanted it this year, especially Anna since she’s a senior,” Gullo said. “All five of us can consistently shoot in the 80s, so it’s not like we need one person. We are pretty competitive.”
Holek said this year’s team was a lot closer than in year’s past. Her goal is to win another title as a senior and make the All-State team again.
The goal for Bischof and Ashcraft next year is also another state title.
“We’re going to have four seniors next year so it’s kind of like our last year before the team has to be rebuilt,” Bischof said. “It’s our last year to have the best chance we can to win it again.”
“We’re going to win state again,” Ashcraft said.
It’s the third state title for Waccamaw High in the last year. The girls tennis team won last November and the girls soccer team won in May.