Sports

June 23, 2013

All-Area Spring Female Athlete of the Year: Blair won region, took second at state

Midway through this high school spring sports season, there were plenty of strong contenders for selection as the area’s top girls athlete.

Dalton Susan Meinders was dominating track and field meets in pursuit of defending her state title in the 300-meter hurdles. Local tennis teams were having solid campaigns with quality players up and down their lineups. Southeast Whitfield golfer Megan Collins was wrapping up a stellar four-year career that also included standout showings in volleyball and basketball. The Northwest Whitfield girls soccer team was putting together a run to the state playoffs.

But by the time the high school athletic calendar wrapped up for the 2012-13 academic year, one player stood taller than the others. Fittingly, she plays in the shadow of a mountain — because all the other stars were looking up to her.

North Murray golfer Jocelyn Blair seemed to always be atop the leaderboard this season, no matter which tournament she was playing in. She was the medalist at both the West Hall Invitational and the Region 5-3A tournament. She was a member of the all-tournament teams at the Nob North and Fields Ferry invitationals, and she capped off her four years with the Lady Mountaineers with a second-place finish at the Class 3A state tournament at Chateau Elan in Braselton.

For her efforts, Blair has been selected as The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Spring Team Girls Athlete of the Year.

Blair has been the No. 1 golfer for North Murray since her sophomore season and had a breakout junior year that was overshadowed only by the play of Dalton’s Brendie Rockholt, who captured the Class 3A state title in 2012. But there was no denying Blair’s play this year, even if she felt like her performances fell short of her expectations.

“I think I did pretty well this year, but I had some high expectations because I had a really good season last year,” said Blair, who will play at Reinhardt University. “I had a slow start, and we had a lot of bad weather. But when region and state came around, it all seemed to come together.”

Last year, Blair finished second at the Region 7-2A tournament, shooting a 76 as the runner-up. This year, she won the title at Calhoun’s Elks Golf Club, but she posted an 85 as the medalist. While she was happy to lead her team to state and capture the top honors at region, she was hesitant to accept congratulations that day.

“I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, but I would have rather won (region) with a 76 than with an 85,” she said. “I played that course the other day and shot an 80. I could have done a lot better at region than I did.”

Blair credited some of her success to the strong group of girls golfers in the area, including Collins, Northwest’s Marlee Bingham and Dalton’s Mable McKone. In most local matches, those four were playing together in some combination.

Blair said they pushed each other to play their best.

“I enjoy playing with people better that I am or at the same level because you play to your competition,” she said. “If someone is hitting fairways and greens, it focuses you and helps your game. That is why I am looking forward to college so much. I know I will not be the No. 1 player, but it will force my game to get better.”

While she isn’t playing in many tournaments this summer, Blair is continuing to work on her game. In addition to her regular weekend rounds with family, she has been spending plenty of time on area practice greens.

“My short game is what I have to work on the most. That is something that you always have to practice,” she said. “You might have a few pushes and pulls off the tee here and there, but putting is a lot different because every green is different. Fairways are pretty simple for the most part. You have to know where to put the ball safely, but it isn’t like they change every time. Greens change every day.”

The only thing that might change about Blair’s game is that it could continue to get better.

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