E.A. Sports Today

Early contenders

Alexandra’s Sechrest, Weaver’s Ledbetter both third in respective races in state golf championships; White Plains girls second among 4A-5A teams

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OWENS CROSS ROADS – Lauren Sechrest cried and Nick Ledbetter laughed. It was that kind of opening day at the AHSAA Golf Championships for the two highest Calhoun County players on the leaderboard.

Sechrest, the Calhoun County medalist from Alexandria, stood on the first tee of the Highlands Course at Hampton Cove Monday morning and cried.

She was about to begin the end of a grand adventure that started by answering her coach’s appeal for players four years ago and she wanted to enjoy everything about it. She wanted to take in all this last hurrah had to offer, but it was just too emotional to contain.

She shed a few tears and then she went out and shot the best score of her career in the biggest tournament of her golfing life.

The Alexandria senior shot a 4-over-par 76 and sits in third place, two shots off the lead, in Class 4A-5A girls.

Pike Road’s Beka Yang (74) and Yvette Gorden (75) posted the two lowest rounds in the division and their team leads White Plains by 16 in the team race. Sechrest’s Lady Cubs trail their county rivals by seven going into Tuesday’s final round.

“My perspective going into it was this is my senior year and we’ve made it here and that was a goal of ours and I just wanted to enjoy it, because this is our last high school tournament,” Sechrest said. “I didn’t want look back on this and regret or think about how we didn’t have any fun. I just really wanted to enjoy it every minute.

“Yes, I cried before we teed off on the first hole. I was so emotional. This is our last tournament ever and then it’s over. Me and Emma Ray both cried. I had a great time.”

The Bryan College signee would have been happy with anything in the mid-80s, and while that may have been in the cards when she turned, she was too good on the back for it to happen.

She played what she perceived as the tougher nine in 1-under-par. After double bogeying 9 with some bad luck to turn in 41 – when both her playing partners birdied – she started the back with birdies on 10 and 12.

Her only blemish coming in was a bogey on 17. Her shot of the day was a bunker shot from below the green on 8 to set up a par save.

“After the birdies, I was like, ‘OK, we’re good,’” she said. “I didn’t want to mess anything up by worrying about it, just play golf.”

In addition to Secrest’s 76, the Lady Cubs counted an 82 from Ray and a 96 from Emilee Brown. Ray was 9-over through five holes, but played her last 13 holes in 1-over and shot 37 on the back.

White Plains counted an 81 from Abby Gattis, 82 from Baylie Webb and 84 from Isabel Rogers. Webb played her back nine in 38. Gattis birdied 8 and 9 to turn in 38 and was 3-over through 14 before running into trouble coming home.

The Lady Wildcats may be playing catchup to a young, strong Pike Road team, but they don’t plan to let up Tuesday.

“I thought we played steady,” White Plains coach Chris Randall said. “The middle part of the round wss really good and we kind of stumbled coming in. You can’t play defense in golf and I thought we shot a decent number considering the conditions, but, boy, you’ve got to tip your hat to Pike Road.

“You know, they’ve got two young players … so if we can go out and just go crazy on the front nine and get (the margin) inside 10, anything can happen. We’re not conceding anything. We’re going to try to make a move on the front nine and see what happens.”

On the boys side, Nick Ledbetter couldn’t help but laugh when he saw the leaderboard after his round.

The Weaver junior shot 6-over-par 78, which normally wouldn’t be too pleasing, but he was leading the Class 3A boys until the final two groups posted. He is four shots behind co-leading Bayside Academy teammates Luke Ferguson and Cole Komyati.

As much as the round seemed to get away from him early in the back nine, he remained atop the leader as group after group behind him posted.

“It feels great that I’m sitting on top of that now,” he said when half the field was posted. “After the first day I feel like if I’m in the top five scores I’ll be able to chase them down tomorrow.”

Ledbetter was cruising along at 2-under on the River Course after a run of birdies on 7, 9 and 10. Then he caught a bad break on 11 and it tested his resolve.

An otherwise good drive caught the cartpath on 11 and caromed into the pond. He made bogey. He had been proud of strides he’d been making on the mental side of the game this year, but that result stunned him. He made triple bogeys on each of his next two holes.

“I just lost focus for three holes.” he admitted.

But once he collected himself, he played the final five holes in 1-over, saving a par on 17 after topping it off the tee.

“That just shows I’ve got to put the wheels back on two holes sooner,” he said. “There are still 18 holes to play. If I can keep playing like I was on the front nine we’ll be A-OK tomorrow. I’ve got to keep my head in it the whole time.”

Among the other county boys playing as individuals, White Plains’ Sawyer Edwards shot 82 in 4A after a tough start and Alexandria’s Cleat Forrest shot 88 in 5A.

AHSAA Golf Championships

Pike Road747582231
White Plains818284247
John Carroll8089114283
Beka Yang, Pike Road383674
Yvette Gordon, Pike Road363975
Lauren Sechrest, Alexandria413576
Evelyn Tankersley, LAMP413879
Kaitlyn Shields, John Carroll423880
Abby Gattis, White Plains384381
Julie Waldo, Ala. Christian414182
Savannah Sandlin, Oneonta443882
Baylie Webb, White Plains444882
Emma Ray, Alexandria453782
Lauryn Leonard, Pike Road424082
Luke Ferguson, Bayside Acad.353974
Cole Komyati, Bayside Acad.413374
Nick Ledbetter, Weaver354378
Landen Rogers, Opp423981
Elliott Overton, Winfield414283
Peyton Preston, Lauderdale Co.444983

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