As the 2012 girls golf season wore on, Ardrey Kell coach Bart Whitney noticed the weight of state-championship aspirations taking a toll on his team. The Knights, partly because they’d won a state title in 2010 and party because they had at least two future college golfers on their roster, weren’t just expected to win matches; they were expected to dominate them.
The impressive part about it all? That’s what they usually did, as they cruised to their fourth consecutive Southwestern 4A conference crown.
And on Oct. 30 at Pinehurst No. 6, the Knights fulfilled those lofty state-title expectations, too, by winning the Class 4A championship 11 strokes ahead of second-place Pinecrest.
The Knights were led by senior Wofford recruit Allyson Markiewicz, who tied for fifth place with a two-day score of 157, and senior Appalachian State commit Emily Stinson, whose 158 tied her for eighth place. The team’s third competitor, Megan Cullip, finished 29th with a 175, as Ardrey Kell stood atop the victory podium for the second time in three years.
But while Whitney was excited for his team, he regretted some of the anguish the players endured on their way back to the top.
“It’s great that we won a state championship, but I never wanted that to be a burden for anybody,” Whitney said. “To a degree, I saw the girls carry quite a bit of stress because their personal expectations were that we would win a team championship. That was something that, at the beginning of the season, that I encouraged our team not to have as a goal.
“I didn’t get into coaching for wins versus losses or plaques and trophies; I got into it to create something that we can be proud of, to give girls an opportunity to make memories for a lifetime. And we kind of approach each practice and each match with a game plan, and we try to execute on that plan. If we do all those things right, it’s easy for us to accept the results, whatever they may be.”
The Ardrey Kell roster also included Brianna Frank, Haley Lubas, Selena Marsland, Laura Swaringen and Alexis Whitney.
Last week, there was no doubt that the Knights were the best team on the course, as they led both days of competition. Ardrey Kell opened with a 242 and held a seven-shot lead over Pinecrest after the first day, and they finished with an overall score of 490.
The fact that the Knights held the lead both days – particularly with cold, windy conditions caused by Superstorm Sandy – made the feat even more impressive.
“You would just make the assumption that girls would have a difficult time,” Whitney said. “And with the depth that’s in women’s golf, it gets more competitive, you figured that on one day or the other we wouldn’t have the low score. But it was a testament to (our golfers’) ability to stay in the moment and focus on the things that we’d talked about that made the difference. They didn’t let the challenges that they all faced get them off the gameplan for more than a shot.”