STATE ROAD — The Lady Bears have a return date in Southern Pines next week.
Mount Airy’s golf team finished third overall in the NCHSAA 1A/2A Central Regional on Tuesday at Cedarbrook Country Club, a performance that allowed the Lady Bears to qualify as a team for the state championship tournament and compete for the team championship.
The team, which swept all five regular-season meets in the Northwest 1A Conference and then won the conference meet title as well, sent its top three golfers onto the course and came away with a score of 292. This was third overall, behind 2A West Davidson (286) and East Wilkes (289). A total of 10 schools qualified for the regional as a team, but those were the only three who managed to put up a score under 300.
The meet marked the first time this season that two-time NW1A Player of the Year Alyssa Cox didn’t earn medalist honors, although she was in contention for much of the day. Alexis Jarrell of Community School of Davidson and Mallory Fobes of Forbush each shot 79 to tie for first place. Fobes, the only Lady Falcon to qualify for the regional, first a 38 on the back nine to make up a deficit against Jarrell. Ava Tharpe of East Wilkes finished third with an 85, while Cox and Anslee Conrad of West Davidson tied for fourth at 86.
A number of other local golfers joined Mount Airy’s Cox, Mattie Noonkester and Bailey Flippen in earning a trip to the state meet. Northwest runner-up East Surry sent five golfers to the regional, but several Lady Cardinals had an off-day and only Madison Bowman, who shot 99, qualified as an individual. As a team, the Lady Cardinals tied for seventh at 321. South Stokes, whose three golfers combined to shoot 325 and place ninth overall, qualified Rachel Fenner for states as an individual. Fenner nearly shot herself back into contention for the individual title after a slow start, eventually tying for sixth with her 45-42 — 87 performance.
Surry Central might well have found its way into the state finals a team if it just had one more player. Instead, Ellie Kidd and Savanah Atkins will settle for representing the Lady Eagles as individuals in Pinehurst. Kidd shot 44 on each nine and advanced to states with an 88, while Atkins qualified as an individual with a score of 102.
All of the qualifying golfers will compete on Monday and Tuesday at the Longleaf Golf and Family Club in Southern Pines, with some golfers starting on hole 1 and others on hole 10. Fobes will be one of the first golfers to tee off on the 5,566-yard course, on the first hole at 9 a.m. Kidd and Atkins have tee times of 9:50 and 10 a.m., respectively, on hole one, while Cox, Noonkester and Flippen will tee off on hole 1 at 10:30, 10:40 and 10:50, respectively. Bowman goes off with the final group on the first hole at 11.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.