Commerce High School has a new state championship trophy to add to its collection.
Monday, the trio of Hannah McRee, Emmie Burley and Akyn Trudnak earned the Lady Tigers’ first ever state championship in golf after carding a 175 in the Class A Public State Tournament at Goshen Plantation in Augusta.
After over six hours of tournament play on a hot, clear day, head coach Rob Brown and his team felt confident as they waited patiently for the final scores to come in. Commerce placed third at sectionals to qualify, but upped its game in the state tournament.
“Going into it, there were five teams that were within five strokes of each other as far as lowest scores carded on the year,” said Brown. “We felt like we had a chance, depending on who played well. We just happened to play better than everyone else today.”
When the final score was tallied, Commerce emerged the undisputed champion, defeating runner-up Schley County by 12 strokes.
“Going into the season, I really wanted to win,” said Burley. “I knew we could. I knew we all had it in us. When they started putting up those last few numbers, I saw that none of them were as low as Akyn’s. A grin just went across my face. I was shaking. I was speechless. It was an unreal feeling, and since it was my senior year, it was really special.”
Trudnak, a sophomore, carded a personal best 81 on the day. Trudnak was not only the low medalist for the Lady Tigers, but also the low medalist for the entire tournament.
“I feel like I just played each shot individually,” said Trudnak. “I forgot about the bad shots and focused on the good. I just cleared my mind and focused on what I needed to do.”
McRee posted the fifth-best score of the tournament with a 94, while Burley carded a 107.
The Tiger trio’s score of 175 led Schley County (189), Trion (193), Towns County (194) and Portal (221).
“Going in, we were really close with a couple teams,” added Trudnak. “But when the scores came in and we knew that we had won, it felt like all our hard work for the whole season had paid off.”
Brown celebrated the Lady Tigers’ achievement as especially impressive considering the small size of the team.
“I’m very proud of them,” he said. “They’ve worked so hard. Emmie and Hannah are both seniors, have been playing the last three years and have worked really hard to improve their scores. This is only Akyn’s second year and she’s improved throughout the season and played very well when she had to.”
With Burley and McRee graduating, Trudnak could be the sole Lady Tiger left on the course next season. But she hopes that the momentum of a state championship might sweeten the pot, and motivate any Commerce would-be golfers to join the team.
“I hope with our win that we can get a bigger team, and I hope that in the future we can win many more state championships,” said Trudnak.
Commerce boys take fifth at state tourney
The Commerce High School boys’ golf team finished fifth in the Class A Public State Tournament at Forrest Hills Golf Club in Augusta on Monday.
Dalton Dean, Sage Culpepper and Wesley Counts all carded 90s, while Wade McMahan added a 105 to seal the Tigers’ second consecutive top-five state tournament finish.
“I was really proud of these guys this year,” said head coach Matthew Lund. “That was a really tough course. They all had some ups and downs today, but they all battled through it. A top-five finish with a majority group of sophomores is not bad at all in my opinion.”
Gordon Lee won the state championship with a d score of 319. Trion (345), Lincoln County (351), Seminole County (364) and Commerce (375) rounded out the top five.
Lund praised Dean, the team’s lone senior, for his performance and dedication throughout the season. Culpepper, Counts and McMahan are all sophomores, and will return their talents to the Tiger squad next season.
“I’m really excited about having these guys back next year,” Lund said. “With these guys continuing to grow and get better and work over the summer and the fall, we have a legitimate shot to win state next year and the year after.”