By Chris Whitfield
CHATSWORTH — Southeast Whitfield High School senior golfer Megan Collins has done this before. For Dalton’s girls golf team, this is becoming routine.
Collins, a Lady Raiders senior, fired a 10-over-par 82 to capture medalist honors in the Region 7-4A tournament Tuesday at Indian Trace Golf Club, while the Lady Catamounts won by 13 strokes over rival Northwest Whitfield to claim their fourth straight region title.
Dalton earns a trip to the Class 4A state tournament on May 20 at Cohutta’s Nob North Golf Course, while Northwest, Heritage-Catoosa and Southeast advance to the state sectional tournament on May 6 at Applewood Golf Course in Keysville outside of Augusta. Those three schools move on because they finished in the top four in the region and met the state sectional qualifying score of 320 in the four-play, three-score event.
“The girls were very determined today,” Dalton coach Nancy Hallsworth said. “All of the girls have practiced very hard on every aspect of their fundamentals coming into the tournament. But they have better scores inside of them.”
Dalton shot a combined 273, with its three counting scores all under 95. Northwest (286) and Heritage (298) were both well inside of the state qualifying mark, but Southeast just made it with a 319.
Collins was the only golfer to shoot 4 over or better on the front nine, finishing strong over the final few holes since she had begun the tournament with a shotgun start on the 7th hole. She had a little more difficulty with the back nine of the course with a 42, but she said she was able to limit any major damage.
“I had some bad holes, and I got a little frustrated on the back nine,” said Collins, who went out of bounds on the par-5 12th and carded a double bogey. “I just really tried to focus on making good contact and take it one hole at a time.”
Led by Mable McKone’s 88, Dalton’s girls put together a performance that was very even across the lineup, and that proved to be the difference. After the first three golfers came in for the Lady Cats, Northwest and Heritage — the top three teams in the region based on regular-season scoring — Dalton held a one-stroke lead over Northwest. That changed when freshman Carson Roberts finished with a 92 to swing the match solidly in favor of the Lady Cats.
“It was a big sigh of relief when that last score came in and we had a little more breathing room,” McKone said. “Carson has been a good player all year long, but this was her best round of the season and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We have been very fortunate to have four players who can all put up solid scoring.”
Roberts and McKone were joined by Ashleigh Peters, who shot a 93. Olga Fouche competed for the Lady Cats and finished with a 104.
“We have a very young team with a lot of talent that is only going to get better,” Hallsworth said.
Northwest Whitfield’s Marlee Bingham led the Lady Bruins with a 90, and she was joined in scoring by Alicia Cole (94) and Dallas Coker (102). Emilee McKinney (110) also competed for Northwest.
This is the second region title for Collins, who won the Region 7-3A title as a sophomore. She was joined in scoring by Bethany Reddix (110) and Hannah Dempsey (127). Tori Bailey (139) also competed for the Lady Raiders.
Cedartown and Pickens tied for fifth at 335, with LaFayette (373), River Ridge (377) and Gilmer (399) rounding out the field. Cedartown’s Megan Keith shot an 80 and advances straight to state as the lowest scoring golfer on a non-qualifying team.