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Sports: A Golden week for Waccamaw High

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Patrick Golden erased the PGA Tour’s Bill Haas from the South Carolina high school record books, and Waccamaw High rolled to the state Class AA boys golf championship at True Blue Golf Club this week.

The Warriors ended Bishop England’s three-year run as state champs, stretching a first round seven-shot lead to 15 on Tuesday and setting a state record with a 13-under 581 score for 36 holes. That broke the Class AA record of 588 set by Aynor. The Bishops finished second, 25 strokes ahead of third-place Andrew Jackson.

Haas set the 36-hole record of 136 for Riverside High in 2000, and it was tied by Trevor Muffley of North Myrtle Beach in 2005. Golden opened the tournament with a 5-under 67 and followed that with an 8-under 64 that was completed in the rain.

“I just made putts and got on a roll,” Golden said. “Whenever you’re doing that, it’s a lot of fun.”

Golden was paired with Bishop England’s No. 1 player Jamie Wilson, who has committed to play at the University of South Carolina. Wilson had been a couple strokes better in their head-to-head meetings during the regular season, but Golden broke his will at True Blue, finishing 15 shots clear of the defending Class AA medalist.

Golden, a lanky left-hander, was long off the tee throughout the two days. True Blue has been the team’s home course for two years, and he knew the sight lines on the blind tee shots. Monday’s wind pushed the degree of difficulty up, and the greens, double-cut and rolled prior to play, were faster in competition than during the weekend’s practice rounds. Tuesday’s final round was pushed to the morning to try and avoid rain in the forecast. Lightning in the distance halted to play early in the afternoon and brought competitors into the clubhouse with the championship hanging in the balance.

“Conditions both days were pretty tricky with strong swirling winds on the first day and the heavy rainfall at the tail end of the final round,” Waccamaw coach Chris Daily said. “It really speaks to how well the team and Patrick played.”

Waccamaw’s Jackson Cole had just a 165-yard approach to the 18th green to finish off his final round when the warning horn sounded. Once play resumed, he pushed his iron right of the green at 18, scooted a chip about 6 feet past the hole and made bogey to finish off a round of 76. Trey Salley hit a monster drive at 18 that stopped just short of the lake, but his wedge shot went over the green and into the water. He saved a double bogey six with a good two-putt at a time when every stroke mattered. Will Canipe finished off his final round of 73 with a two-putt par, clearing the stage for Golden in front of a big gallery that included former Waccamaw golfers Davis Hogan, Michael English and Adam Wooldridge. Word reached spectators that Golden had birdied the par 5 16th hole in the rain and just missed a 15-foot birdie putt at the par 3 17th. Golden played a safe approach, about 30 feet right of the hole.

“It was a slippery putt, a tough putt,” he said. Other players with similar line and length had either left putts 6 feet short or raced them well past the hole to the collar of the green. The rain was playing tricks on their minds.

Golden surveyed his line and walked halfway to the hole where he judged the break to be. He knew the ball was in before it dropped, raising his putter in the air as the birdie toppled into the cup. Bishop England star Wilson three-putted for an indifferent 75, giving second in the individual standings to teammate Ben Burton.

Waccamaw had not won a marquee invitational this season until the state championship. “This win speaks to the grit of the team grinding away and picking up the win in the big one,” Daily said. “This is an impressive collection of boys that has a very bright future ahead of them. It’s been a pleasure to coach them the past several years.”

It was the school’s fifth title in boys golf. Waccamaw was state champion in Class A in 1999 and 2000. They moved up to Class AA and won titles in 2001 and 2009. Next year, the Warriors move to Class AAA. Cole, Canipe and Golden were named to the all-state team for finishing in the top 10. The staff at True Blue presented Barnwell’s William Edwards a plaque for making a hole-in-one during the second round. He finished the tournament with a 27-over 171, tied for 32nd.

Waccamaw scores: Patrick Golden, 67-64 – 131; Will Canipe, 73-73 – 146; Jackson Cole, 75-76 – 151; Trey Salley, 75-78 – 153; Chris Kaylor, 81-78 – 159. Team total of lowest four scores: 581.

Girls win first state track and field title

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

The South Carolina Class AA girls track and field title came down to one race Saturday.

Woodland High had taken the lead on the strength of gold medal performances in the pole vault, discus and triple jump, but Waccamaw had an answer: Amelia Jones in the 3,200-meter run.

Jones, a three-time state cross country girls champion, smoked the field by almost 10 seconds, and the Warrior girls won the state championship by two points.

Coach Brian White said he was feeling good until his top-seeded 4-by-400 team dropped the baton on an exchange and finished sixth. “That made it really tight,” he said. “It came down to Amelia in the 3,200.”

White said teams had been avoiding Jones in the 3,200 this season, moving distance runners to other events. “We talked about how she’d run in all these races, but the problem was she wasn’t running against solid competition. We worried about it going into the last few races,” White said. In practices leading up to the state finals, Jones posted championship-caliber times against the clock. “That made me feel a lot better,” White said. “If we had to put it in anybody’s hands, we said, let’s put it in Amelia’s.”

Jones said she and Mary Butler DeSpain talked after the 1,600. “We knew we needed to win or get close,” she said. “I went in pretty confident.”

White could point to a number of events that broke Waccamaw’s way. “Briley Arnold winning the 100 hurdles was just unbelievable,” he said. “That was unexpected. We didn’t go into it thinking that Briley should win this. A top three would be good, and when she won it was awesome.”

Arnold said she knew she was in good position at the first hurdle against Midland’s Keyrra Gaddist and by mid-race told herself that she could win. Arnold was the favorite in the 400-meter hurdles and ran a winning time of 1:04.60.

White said DeSpain’s finish in the 800 was a difference-maker too. She came from fifth place to take the lead in the final 150 meters, he said. Emma Lawrence of Bishop England lunged at the tape and got first place by .02 of a second. “Mary Butler thought she had won,” White said. “That’s how close they were. That was exciting.”

DeSpain said she gave it all she had over that last 150 meters in order to catch Lawrence. “I knew she was going to be tough,” she said. “I had beaten her once, and she beat me at Lower State. I said I just have to go and just sprinted as hard as I could.”

Waccamaw’s 4-by-800 relay team of Arnold, Allison Mays, Jones and DeSpain ran its best time of the year, 10:02.51, in getting a first place. “That was really exciting,” White said.

Every point mattered for Waccamaw. Jones got fourth in the 1,600, and Tyaisha Edwards took sixth in the 100 and fourth in the 200. DeSpain was seventh in the 1,600, and Jamisa Lewis was sixth in the shot put.

White said the Warriors’ 4-by-400 relay team of Mary Katherine Kelly, Edwards, Brianna Brooks and Arnold was the favorite. When the baton fell to the track during an exchange, it seemed like an eternity before Waccamaw’s runner picked it up and ran, White said. “The runner can pick it up as long as it’s the person who was receiving it,” he said.

“Those sixth-place points were the difference in winning and losing. Needless to say, I was on pins and needles for awhile, especially at the end.”

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