PILOT MOUNTAIN — North Surry’s Kasie Tolbert finished off a stellar Northwest golf season with her second-straight player of the year award.
Tolbert and East Surry’s Madison Moore were neck and neck for the title last year, but the Greyhound senior got off to a hot start this season and put a little distance between the girls, noted North Coach Daniel Johnson.
The player of the year goes to the girl with the fewest total strokes on the season. For all the regular-season events and Wednesday’s conference tournament, Tolbert totaled 274 strokes. Moore was second at 286, 10 strokes better than South Stokes’ Megan Mabe.
South Stokes pulled away from North Surry and East Surry to claim the season title in golf Wednesday.
The Lady Sauras had a slight lead on the Lady Greyhounds for the Northwest Conference title, with the Lady Cardinals not far behind.
Needing a good showing, the Sauras impressed with the best score on the day, wrapping up the season victory.
Johnson said he felt a little disappointed that the Hounds couldn’t catch South Stokes for the season title, but second place is still quite an accomplishment for the school since it has only fielded a team for three years.
As for Tolbert, he said he is very proud of his player being player of the year twice. He thinks she has a bright future in golf wherever she ends up playing.
Johnson said he has sent out a few e-mail feelers to college coaches on her behalf. However, college scouts don’t frequent local golf courses, and taking part in regional junior tournaments can get expensive.
Joining Tolbert on the Northwest All-Conference Team are two teammates: fellow seniors Gatlin Hiatt and Sarah Holleman.
Hiatt finished fifth overall and Holleman was tied for eighth with East Surry’s Elizabeth Shelton.
Last year, Holleman just missed the first team by a couple of strokes and was an honorable mention, said Johnson. She set a goal for herself to make the team this year and followed through.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of coaching these girls,” Johnson said of his three seniors. “They are almost like my daughters. It makes me happy to see them meet their goals.”
“I will be sad to say goodbye to them,” he said. Not just because of their playing ability, but because they have “good, strong moral fiber — their character sets them apart.”
While North Surry loses its top three players, the Cardinals will return their top golfer.
Madison is a sophomore who recently turned 15, noted East Coach Chad Freeman. “She did a good job today, and her future is bright. She is only going to continue to grow and improve as a golfer.”
Moore is one of four Cards on the all-conference team, with the fifth just outside the top 12.
“Elizabeth (Shelton) came out as a junior,” Freeman said. The 2011 team featured Moore and several seniors, so Shelton wasn’t able to crack the starting five then.
She has been a great story for the squad, he believed. Basically a rookie playing for the first time, she has continued to work hard throughout the season and rose to the second seed on the Cards.
She tied Holleman for eighth place to make the first team.
East’s third seed, Lindsey Chamblin, was an all-conference player last year as a sophomore.
“She had a rough patch in the middle of the season,” the coach said. “I’m proud of her for her perseverance and turning things around.”
Chamblin righted the ship in recent weeks and performed well enough to make all-conference again with the 10th-best scoring average.
Just a mere three strokes behind for the entire season was fourth seed Whitney Cox.
Whitney played a little golf in grade school, but hadn’t touched a club in years before coming out for the team this year as a sophomore, Freeman said.
“She definitely has improved a ton since the first of the season,” he said. She’s been consistently scoring in the low-50s in recent weeks, and had a 52 and 54 on the front and back nines Wednesday.
She has a few things still to work on, he said. She’ll save a few strokes a match by improving her short game for next year.
She’s also the team comedienne, keeping the girls laughing and relaxed.
East’s fifth seed is Brooke Bowman, an all-conference softball player who decided to take up golf for fun, the coach explained.
“She’s a perfectionist and got a little frustrated with herself earlier in the season,” he said. But, she’s kept on trying and has been rewarded with improvement.
Last week, she shot a career-best 55, good enough to qualify for the regional tournament next week. She bested that Wednesday on the front nine with a 54, then improved on that with a 49 on the back side to finish tied for 10th overall.
She finished the Northwest season 15th in scoring.
“I’m proud of her and the progress she’s made,” he said.
South Stokes had all five players make the top 12: Megan Mabe, Brooke Kiger, Brooke Martin, Nicole Rogers and Maggie Abbott.
Mount Airy’s Catherine Scott led the Bears in scoring average. She was 13th in the Northwest, just missing the all-conference team.
Alivia Daniels, West Stokes, played as a solo golfer this season and finished 14th in scoring average.
Autumn Senter, Surry Central, was the Lady Eagles’ top performer. She was 17th in scoring average.
Reach Jeff Linville at email@example.com or at 719-1920.