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FHS girls ‘ace’ state

Three individual champions in post-season play, each seizing her opportunity along the way, culminated in the ultimate team prize.

Led by individual state champion Erika Thornton, the Farragut High School girls golf team won its second TSSAA Class AAA state title in three years with a commanding 19-stroke victory (290) versus runner-up Hardin County (309) Oct. 3-4 at Old Fort Golf Course in Murfreesboro.

District 4-AAA medalist Jillian Brodd, an FHS senior who along with Thornton were also key contributors on the 2004 Lady Admiral state championship team, finished in a sixth-place tie at state (151 for 36 holes) with teammate and Region 2-AAA medalist Alyssa Randolph, a junior.

As for having three different post-season individual champions, “I don’t know how many times you’ll see that … that just shows you how deep we were and how each one of ’em could have an outstanding round and move to the front,” FHS head coach Mike Driver said.

Thornton, a Mississippi State University commitment, won the individual state crown (142) by one stroke against runner-up Hannah Weathersby of Franklin County.

With pars on the final six holes, “I decided to play consistent coming down at the end … I wasn’t really under pressure, I was trying to play my own game and not worry about anyone else,” said Thornton, a senior. “I wasn’t trying to think about anything else, just go out there and just let it fall.”

Calling the Old Fort course “fair” with flat fairways, “I tried to play conservative, and if I happened to make a birdie, that’d be great.”

Thornton said a key moment came late during the final round, as she rebounded for par on No. 16. “I hit my one bad drive of the day on sixteen, I hit into the hazard,” she said. “But I hit a great shot out of the hazard and made a two-putt. That was a really great par.”

As for winning the individual state crown, “It’s been a goal the last four years,” said Thornton, who finished fourth in the state as a freshman, fifth as a sophomore and 10th last season. “I knew hard work would finally pay off, and it did. It was my senior year, so it was very fulfilling for me.

“Not only individually, but a team championship my senior year.”

Driver said Thornton “hit the ball extremely well, she’s probably our longest off the tee. Erika really focuses, you can see the intensity throughout the round. I think that comes with experience of playing in big time tournaments like U.S. Junior Amateur Championships and Southeastern Junior Tournament, stuff like that.”

As for his three top golfers, “All three have played in a lot of big golf tournaments in the summer and fall, outside of high school,” Driver said. “They knew if one of ’em slipped the others would be there, and that’s the big part of having a strong team.”

Among Farragut’s top regular season accomplishments was a match win versus Division II state power Baylor. “They’ve won like eleven straight titles in private school, and we’ve beaten them two or three times over the last year, and they’ve beaten us a couple of times.”

The threesome also led the Lady Admirals to a runner-up state finish in 2005.

Just before entering post-season play, Thornton, Brodd and Randolph placed high among golfers for “Nevada, Florida, Missouri and three teams from California” according to Driver in the Palmetto High School Championships in South Carolina. Thornton was second, Brodd third and Randolph seventh among 70 top national golfers.

Driver said sophomore Hannah Berman will be counted on heavily next season to compliment Randolph’s efforts in 2007.


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