By EDDIE SOUTHARDS
Winning the 4-A state championship last year was both a blessing and a curse for Reagan High School’s Victoria Allred.
She won the individual title as a sophomore, and the state tournament was returning to the same course – Pinehurst No. 6.
Allred also led a group that finished as runner-up for the team title last fall.
But things didn’t work out this time in the cold and windy conditions brought on by Hurricane Sandy. Allred shot 82-79 and tied for 10th place. The team shot 17 strokes worse than last year and finished fourth.
“I’m disappointed in myself, honestly,” she said. “I should have played a whole lot better than I did. I feel like I let my team down.”
The curse of being the defending individual champion is that expectations are raised.
“I think I had expectations to repeat coming in after winning it last year,” she said. “I don’t want to say that’s why I didn’t play well, and I don’t want to blame the conditions either, but I think we had a lot of bad breaks.”
The tournament got off to a poor start for Allred when she got a bad lie in a bunker and made a double bogey on the second hole.
“I had a really good feeling coming back to this course,” she said. “I felt confident coming in. I could have played better but with these conditions, it was difficult to figure what to hit and where to aim.”
Reagan is coached by Allred’s father, Jay, who knew his daughter was feeling some pressure to defend her title.
“That weighed on her,” he said. “Everybody knows you as the state champion and you’ve got a target on your back. Victoria was just a little off she just could not get it close enough to convert.”
Sarah Bae of Raleigh Athens Drive won the individual title on the second hole of a playoff over Ashley Osiecki of New Bern.
Jay reminded Victoria that it is not an easy title to win.
“No girl has won the 4A state championship twice since 1997,” Jay said. “Sarah Bae had never won it before and she’s a great player. She’s been the North Carolina junior player of the year for three or four years but she hadn’t won the high school tournament as an individual.”
Jay said the poor weather conditions also affected his team.
“The wind blew the ball all over the place, it was tough,” Jay said. “Victoria didn’t make a birdie the whole tournament and she normally averages about four per round. With the wind and everything, we just couldn’t get the ball close to the hole.
“When you get conditions like this, it’s just a different ball game. That back nine the first day just ate us up. The wind was blowing 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 40. You just can’t plan for it. I know Victoria had a 100-yard shot into the green on one hole; she hit two clubs extra and still came up short of the green. How do you pull four clubs more out of your bag?”
Reagan did not fare as well as it hoped in the team competition either despite a strong effort by Hannah Craver.
The senior, who will play collegiate golf at Appalachian State, led the team with rounds of 79-76 and tied for third place as an individual. It was her fourth consecutive top-16 finish. She was 16th as a freshman, 15th as a sophomore and ninth a year ago. The Raiders finished in the top four of the state all four years.
Chloe Sizemore was the third Reagan scorer with 94-98 – 192.
Ardrey Kell of Charlotte won the team title with a 490 total to beat Pinecrest by 11 shots. Triangle power Green Hope of Cary was another three shots back in third place.
Ironically Reagan defeated Ardrey Kell by 10 shots in the regional the week prior to states.
“Oddly, I thought I’d be disappointed but I’m not,” Jay said. “I don’t take anything away from our kids and what they’ve accomplished. I said before the tournament if we played Ardrey Kell and Pinecrest three times there would be three different winners.”
Victoria will get another chance to win a second title next year as a senior. She will be the team’s only returnee from states this year.
“I thought this would be our best year to win it,” Victoria said. “I’m disappointed but Ardrey Kell won it. They played well and deserved it.”