The St. Pius X boys’ golf team won the AAAA state championship last week, as they shot a combined 576 over a two-day stretch. The girls’ team also finished in the top 10.
The girls team was led Neve Thanner and Lily Osterloh. Head coach Rachel Braham was pleased with her team’s performance, stating “A 10th place finish for us is an accomplishment with such a young team. As a team, they knew the course (Maple Ridge in Columbus) and had a plan to execute on each hole. These four girls really like each other and like working together to be the best they can be in a competition. The experience gained this year absolutely cannot be overlooked for such a young team that has a really bright future.”
The boys’ team started off well with freshman Carter Loflin shooting a 6-under par 65 on day 1. Additionally, Jack McDonald posted an even-par 71, University of North Georgia signee Stephen Kinsel shot a 73, and Max Muenchen tallied a 75. The Golden Lions finished the first day with a six-stroke lead over North Oconee and an eight-stroke lead over host team Columbus, while Marist also remained within striking distance. Coach Phillip Cook said, “At the end of the first day, you had four really good squads still within that manageable dozen strokes zone where one school could catch another.”
On the second day, St. Pius swept away any chance the chasing teams had, playing smart and steady golf by hitting fairways and greens at a spectacular clip. After play concluded, Cook stated, “Day two was really great. It was hotter than hot that morning, but our guys did a great job managing themselves on everything from the heat to the atmosphere.”
Cook attributed the team’s championship victory to an experienced senior-led squad.
“With a veteran team, I really didn’t have to tell them how to play a course they had all seen, and didn’t have to do much on the course other than ice them down with a cold towel every few holes,” Cook said. “What I really liked most was how our guys handled themselves. They managed a lead and outscored a batch of very talented teams on the merits of pure performance and nothing else.”
Loflin was the team’s top performer, shooting a combined 139 and missing out on low-medalist honors by only one stroke. Cook commended the performance of Kinsel, who tied for 8th after shooting 144. In the anchor position on the tournament’s final day, Kinsel sunk a treacherous downhill 35-foot putt for birdie to clinch the state championship for the team.
The 2019 state championship is the first in the history of the St. Pius X golf program, and the first for Cook with the Golden Lions.