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Tigers Are Tops In TN: HS Golf State Champs | Macon County


Girls finish in second place

Macon County

By Juan Clariday

The Macon County Boys golf team won the first team state championship in the 85-year existence of the school with a five-stroke (619 – 624) victory over Alcoa in the 2012 TSSAA Class A-AA State Championship Tournament on October 9th and 10th at the Willow Brook Golf Course in Manchester,Tennessee.

The MCHS Girls team almost made it a “daily double” by finishing second to three-time defending state champion Signal Mountain by six strokes.  Signal Mountain shot 329 to Macon’s 335 in winning their fourth straight title.

Macon County, making their first state tournament appearance, was led by sophomore Larken Whittemore, who finished fifth individually with a 149 (+5). Junior teammate Austin Williams finished sixth with a 150 (+6). Junior Zach Poston scored a 154 (+10), senior Ian Whittemore shot 169 (+25), junior Trey Reid shot 173, and senior Trenton Duffer was the alternate. In the state tournament, the high score is dropped and the top four scores are counted into the team score and in girls’ play the two lowest scores are counted.

Sydney Chung of Madison Academic in Jackson was the boys’ individual champion with a 146 (+2) and Sophia Schubert of Christian Academy of Knoxville was the girls’ individual champion with a 146 (+2).

The Tigers exorcised a demon that had been haunting them for the past year as the finished second to Lipscomb Academy in last year’s Region 5 tournament. Only the region champion qualifies for the state tournament.

“I am so proud of all my players,” said Macon County golf coach Beverly Shoulders. “We have been working for this day since these guys were in the fifth grade and knew they were going to be a special group.”Macon County

MCHS knew at tee time that they would be paired with Alcoa and Happy Valley, the two clubs that trailed the Tigers. “It helped that Alcoa was paired with us,” stated Shoulders. “We knew how close they were to us when they made their rally. The boys responded to the challenge. We felt like we had more depth than anybody else in the field and that was the difference in winning the state.”

One-by-one each player, playing in a different group, finished their round on the 18th hole. Polston was the next-to-last Tiger to play and he chipped in his shot from off the green for a birdie that saved a stroke. Larken Whittemore was the last Macon player to play and he sunk his birdie putt that clinched the title. “I didn’t have a birdie all day and I wanted it there because every one was watching,” stated the sophomore.

Even though he did not win the individual title, Larken Whittemore is one happy camper. “I could care less that I won the individuals,” said Larken. The team is all I care about. As long as I have teammates, that’s all that matters to me.”

“I could not have picked a better way to end my high school golf career,” said senior Ian Whittemore (Larken’s older brother). “It felt good holding up that trophy and it was heavy too.”

MCHS is the first public school to win the boys’ A-AA title since 2004 when Hixson High School in Chattanooga won. This is the first time in the 22-year history of the A-AA Class that a private school did not compete for the boys’ team championship.

The Tigers were the opening round leaders after the first day as they lead Alcoa by 11 shots (310 – 321). Alcoa made a charge and had the best second round score, but it was not enough to overcomeMacon’s lead. The Tigers had three players to shoot in the 70’s in the first round, Larken Whittemore shot 74, Williams had a 77, and Polston shot 79.

The Macon County girls’ team was also in the lead after the first round, leading Signal by five strokes (159 – 164). However, MCHS could not hold on as Signal Mountain stormed back to take the crown. Lauren Gammons, a junior, was in second place after day one with a 77 but shot 90 in the second round for a 167 total. Gammons finished in sixth place overall and Kaitlin Cartwright, a junior, shot 168 and finished tied for 10th place. Kaleigh Chitwood, a senior, shot a 182 and Leah Johnson was the alternate.

Macon County“The girls played a good tournament,” Shoulders stated. “We got off to a good start on Tuesday and Lauren was in contention for the individual medal. We knew a five-stroke lead was not much.SignalMountainis the defending champions for a reason. They made their run like we expected. Our shots just didn’t fall like they did in the first round. My heart goes out to Kaleigh Chitwood. She has had a great career and is the only senior on the girls’ team. She played in the state tournament all four years and was a great leader for us.”

Even though she did not win the individual title, Gammons is proud of what she and her teammates accomplished. “I am really proud of the way we finished our season,” said Gammons. “Going to the state tournament is such an amazing accomplishment. I felt good after the first day, but my 44 on the front nine set me back and shot 90 for the round. I felt so disappointed, we could have won it. However, we have made to the state every year, not many teams can say that. We finished second and everyone including ourselves is very proud of what we done.”

It was the fourth consecutive state tournament for the Macon County girls’ team. MCHS finished fifth in 2009, sixth in 2010, fourth in 2011, and was second in 2012.


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