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GHSA rule forces Mustangs golfers to play waiting game

ng week for the South Effingham girls golf team, which is waiting to find out whether it will advance to the Class AAAAA state tournament.

The team finished third behind Veterans and Ware County in the sectional round  last week but a GHSA rule has left it in limbo. The rule states that the top four teams will advance. The fine print, however, indicates that in a field of nine each team must bring a “full” squad.

Unfortunately for South Effingham, some teams came with just one or two players, therefore only the top two teams receive an automatic bid. Although they shot a qualifying score, the Mustangs must wait until all areas have competed their tournaments before a decision can be made about their status. 

“It stinks because I really think we deserve to get invited,” Mustangs head coach Mitchell Curry. 

The Lady Mustangs were incredibly close to qualifying but with one of their top golfers under the weather and with just three in competition, it proved to be a tough day. 

“When we got to the area tournament, they didn’t have their best day but they still competed and I am proud they pushed through it,” Curry saod. “Bella Sapp didn’t feel very well and after struggling on the first nine she ended up shooting a 40. Abigail Cheney, after struggling a little bit, ended up with an 86. Bella came up one stroke shy of qualifying as an individual.” 

Waiting to hear their number called puts them in a bind in terms of traveling and finding a place to lay their head, but Curry plans to make the most out of what has been a challenging week. But fortunately, Cheney clinched the lowest score out of the remaining seven teams with an 86 and has qualified for state as an individual. 

“The girls have done a great job,” Curry said. “They’ve won almost every match they have competed in. They’ve done very well. They compete, work hard and I am proud of them.

“Abby and Bella are two of the best golfers in the area, so I hope they get the recognition they deserve. Logan Byrd is our only senior and she was very instrumental because you have to have three to make a team and she did a great job for us as well.” 

As for the boys, a similar situation played out for junior Aaron Elmore, who came up just short of booking his ticket to the state tournament. 

“Aaron Elmore was probably our low scorer for the year but, if you look at the scores, there is probably a two-stroke difference between he and Jacob Fripp,” Curry said. “He actually tied to go as an individual to the state tournament, but he lost in a two-hole playoff to a kid from Thomas County Central. That was unfortunate for him but the boys did great all year.”

With no seniors on the boys’ team, Curry knows he will return an experienced group that will be ready to take on another season of competitive AAAAA golf. 

“On the boy’s side, Jacob Fripp is among the best in the area and we have a couple sophomores that have played very well,” Curry said. “Jacob has a lot of talent and I see him going a long way in golf. Nick Hofmann shot a 78 in the area tournament and that was his lowest score of the season. Sam Tootle ended up shooting one of his lowest scores in the tournament, so he did very well for us.

“The boys have come a long way. We played a lot more matches this year to have more competition. We won a lot of them but we played some tougher teams. No doubt we do have a young team and I feel they are playing exceptionally well considering how young they are.”