The Columbus Lady Blue Devils brought a youth movement to the top spot in the Class 4A girls golf state tournament.
Columbus won its ninth state title in program history and first under head coach Joe McDaniel Tuesday after rain canceled the second round at Maple Ridge Golf Club. With two freshmen and two sophomores making considerable contributions, the Lady Blue Devils showed themselves to be a team that must be reckoned with for years to come.
The Lady Blue Devils beat Woodward Academy by three strokes.
“It’s fantastic,” McDaniel said. “They worked really hard this year. To bring that trophy to Columbus High means the world to me.”
Sophomore Mary Catherine McDaniel, McDaniel’s daughter, shot the fourth-lowest score among all individuals with a 76. Fellow sophomore Faith Scott carded a 78, and freshman Maddy Krueger turned in an 85 to give Columbus a 239 team score. Freshman Ashton Hill’s 97 was the drop score for the Lady Blue Devils.
“It’s unbelievable,” Mary Catherine said. “I’ve never been so happy in my life. I just want to thank my team. We couldn’t have done this alone. We had to all work together.”
Mary Catherine’s top score was part of an usual trend for the Columbus golf teams. Jonathan Parker, son of Blue Devils coach Chris Parker, also posted the lowest score for the Blue Devils in their championship-winning round Monday.
McDaniel said his golfers knew there was a chance Tuesday’s round may not happen. Whether that influenced their efforts or not, he said they “played their hearts out” through 18 holes yesterday. The strong first day of play set up anticipation for the second round that was replaced by jubilation when it became clear the Lady Blue Devils would be declared the winners.
The victory was one that Scott, who traded the title of Columbus’ top golfer with Mary Catherine throughout the regular season, said meant everything to her.
“We worked really, really hard,” Scott said. “We’re a team that’s very young. We showed them a young team could actually win state.”
McDaniel is familiar with watching close by when the Lady Devils won it all, having served as an assistant to John Drew when he captured five consecutive state championships. Now McDaniel can add his own title to a list that he said gives the program more state titles than any other girls golf team in Georgia.
The real beauty in Tuesday’s celebration is that it may only be the first of many yet to come for McDaniel.
The youth that filled the Columbus team proved itself up to the challenge of facing the top competition in the entire state. Having done so as underclassmen only leaves the window open for even more banners being added to the Columbus High School gynasium in the coming years.
“We’ve got three more years,” said Hill, referring to herself and Krueger. “Hopefully, we’ll get three more rings.”
Top 10 team standings
Columbus - 239; Woodward Academy - 242; Marist - 248; Blessed Trinity - 255; White Co. - 259; North Oconee - 285; Central (Carrollton) - 296; Jefferson - 296; Cedartown - 315; Madison Co. - 315
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports