E.A. Sports Today

Sechrest champion

Alexandria senior charges in final two holes, wins 4A-5A medalist; Weaver’s Ledbetter second in 3A boys

Alexandria’s Lauren Sechrest gets emotional the moment she learns she won the Class 4A-5A girls medalist. On the cover, Sechrest is congratulated by Lady Cubs coach Craig Kiker on her round.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OWENS CROSS ROADS — Lauren Sechrest never expected to win a state championship, either four years ago when she picked up golf club for the first time or Tuesday in her final high school tournament round, but she knew if she just trusted in her higher power and her golf swing things were going to be all right.


The Alexandria senior was at a loss to explain why it happened, but when she walked off the 18th green of the Hampton Cove’s Highlands Course she was a state champion.

Sechrest came from two shots back with two holes to play and sank a five-foot birdie on 18 after a brilliant approach to win medalist honors in the Class 4A-5A state tournament.

She shot a career-best 1-over-par 73 that beat her previous best the day before by three shots for a two-day total 149, and chased down Pike Road eighth-grader Beka Yang over the final two holes to win by a stroke.

“I wasn’t expecting this at all; I wasn’t expecting to win,” Sechrest said. “I can’t even describe the feeling. Just to think how much time Coach (Brenard) Howard and Coach (Craig) Kiker invested in me and my teammates, how much work I put into this, it doesn’t even seem real.

“You saw some of those holes, you saw some of those putts, I can’t do that on my own. That’s why I give all the credit to God because it is not me. I don’t feel like I played that good. I don’t feel deserving of this. It’s unreal to even think about it. I can’t even describe it. To do this is four years is amazing.”

Sechrest started the day in third place two shots off the lead after her best-ever 76 Monday. She climbed into a share of the lead with a curling 30-foot birdie putt on 9 – one of several long putts she made to keep the round going – but fell off the pace with bogeys on 10 and 13.

The margin remained two until their group got to 17, the hole Sechrest called “the scariest” on the Highlands Course. The door opened when Yang found the water off the tee and Sechrest, after saying a little prayer to calm her nerves, pounded her drive down the middle of the fairway.

“I was like you’ve got to stay focused, you can’t let what’s happening on her side affect you,” Sechrest said. “By that point I wasn’t trying to think about her score because I knew I was beating her today, but I wasn’t even thinking about the total. I was just playing golf, enjoying my round because I’d never played this good in my life. I was just trying to stay focused and play my own game one shot at a time.”

The second shot on 17 was the scary part for Sechrest, but she as calmly as possible placed hers just off the corner of the pond. Yang, meanwhile, dropped and hit her recovery shot into the fairway bunker.

Sechrest hit an A-wedge from 85 yards to 10 feet and two-putted for par while Yang made double bogey. That left them tied going to 18 tee, but she still had no idea where things stood.

“Coach told me (later) he knew we were tied, but I’m glad he didn’t say anything or I would’ve been terrified the whole last hole,” she said.

Both co-leaders found the right side of the fairway with their drives. Sechrest then lofted another A-wedge from 88 yards to five feet of the pin. Yang’s approach bounded to the back tier.

The 13-year-old who was playing her first year of high school golf after moving from Ohio in August went first and her putt just slid past the right edge. Sechrest went next on a similar but shorter line and dropped her putt into the center of the cup, not really knowing that she had won.

“I was wanting to make it, but I’d have been OK with a par,” she said. “It somehow dropped and then I started crying just because high school golf was over. I wasn’t crying because I won because I had no idea I won, I just got emotional.”

Sechrest became the first girls state medalist from Calhoun County since JCA’s Chloe Borders won 1A-3A in 2016 and the fourth all-time. Alexandria’s Jordan Gregoria shared the 1A-5A title with Westbrook’s Ali Porter in 2014 and Saks’ Amy Miller won in in 1989 and 1990.

“I have no words, I am absolutely speechless and shocked,” she concluded. “I didn’t even know this was happening. I didn’t know I was in the lead. This has just been an amazing week for me. Going into this I wasn’t expecting anything. I was just wanting to have fun my last time. It’s just unreal.”

The final day of play in 4A-5A girls was a shootout among the top three teams. Pike Road and White Plains both posted 237s to finish 1-2 in the team race. Alexandria shot 238 and finished third. Five players from the two Calhoun County teams finished in the top 10.

In addition to Sechrest’s 73, the Lady Cubs counted 79 from Emma Ray and 86 from Emilee Brown. White Plains counted a career-best 77 from Isabel Rogers, 79 from Sechrest’s playing partner Abby Gattis and 81 from Baylie Webb. 

“I’m thrilled with the determination from the girls,” White Plains coach Chris Randall said. “We played our best round of the year on a big course like this … so that was excellent. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat. Pike Road better than us, but I couldn’t be happier with the way we played the way our girls were just grinding to the very end.

“Us and Alexandria have had some great competitions over the last couple years, back and forth. And from the White Plains golf family we couldn’t be happier for Lauren to win the state championship and bring it back to the Valley for those folks.”

Rogers shot 38 on the back, birdied her last hole and played her last eight holes after a double on 10 in even par.

“I was 6-over going into the last hole and I knew I wanted to be in the 70s today and I birdied the last hole so that made me feel really good,” she said. “It shows even when I mess up I can still keep grinding. I have to focus on keep grinding and not get too upset over one or two shots.”

On the boys side, Weaver’s Nick Ledbetter shot a 2-over 74 that, like yesterday’s 78, had him atop the 3A boys leaderboard as he sat through lunch. He finished second when Bayside Academy’s Cole Komyati’s 69 clipped him at the wire.

Among the other boys’ individuals, Alexandria’s Cleat Forrest shot 83 and finished at 171 in 5A and White Plains’ Sawyer Edwards shot 82 for the second day in a row and finished at 164 in 4A.

AHSAA Golf Championships

CLASS 4A-5A GIRLS (Highlands)
Pike Road231237468
White Plains247237484
John Carroll283273556
Lauren Sechrest, Alexandria7673149
Beka Yang, Pike Road7476150
Yvette Gordon, Pike Road7578153
Lucia Perez, Westminster8768155
Julie Waldo, Ala. Christian8276158
Savannah Sandlin, Oneonta8278160
Abby Gattis, White Plains8179160
Isabel Rogers, White Plains8477161
Emma Ray, Alexandria8279161
Baylie Webb, White Plains8281163

Cole Komyati, Bayside Acad.7469143
Nick Ledbetter, Weaver7874152
Elliott Overton, Winfield8373156
Luke Ferguson, Bayside Academy7482156
Landen Rogers, Opp8179160

You must be logged in to post a comment Login