Cherokee will compete in the Class AAAAA tournament at West Lake Country Club in Augusta, where they will be joined by Etowah’s Melanie Talbott, an individual qualifier.
Creekview will also be competing in Evans, a suburb northwest of Augusta, for the Class AAAA tournament at Bartram Trail Golf Club.
In the boys competition, Woodstock’s Eric Burns will have a chance to compete for medalist honors in the Class AAAAA championship at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Evans.
Judging by the scores among the 16 qualifying teams, the Cherokee girls have a legitimate chance at finishing near the top of the leaderboard.
The Lady Warriors picked up their first region championship in team history after firing 155 to claim the Region 5AAAAA title. That score ties Milton, the Region 6AAAAA champion, with the lowest region tournament score of Monday’s competing Class AAAAA teams.
Walton, the Region 5AAAAA runner-up, carded a 159 at the region meet.
Cherokee, which finished 10th in the state last year, is bringing an experienced lineup to Augusta as it vies for its first state championship.
Senior Meredith Gray, will be participating in her fourth state tournament, while senior Anna Higgins will be in her third. They will be joined by Sydney Van Alstyne and Amanda Burton, who were also on last year’s state-qualifying team.
“Anna and Meredith have had the pressure on them all year,” Cherokee coach Robin Roper said. “When you’re at an event like this, there’s always some nerves, but these girls have a lot of confidence. I don’t expect anything but great things from them. It’s their last year of high school golf, and they’re determined to go out on a very good note.”
Talbott, a freshman, qualified for her first state tournament after posting the lowest score from an individual not attached to an advancing team. She shot 77 to tie for region medalist honors, but lost to Higgins in a playoff.
“I have all of the confidence in the world that Melanie is talented enough to win the title,” Etowah coach Jamie Nelson said. “I think she’s had some very good experiences this year, and her last two 18-hole tournaments both ended up with her in a playoff.”
Talbott lost a playoff with Creekview’s Whitney Stevenson for the county championship.
“She thrives under pressure and relishes moments like this,” Nelson added. “Looking at the other low scores from golfers from other regions, I think Melanie is very capable of winning.”
Creekview is back at state for the first time since 2006 when, as a team of freshmen, it qualified for the Class A tournament.
Led by Stevenson’s 86 and Meghan Nay’s 94, the Lady Grizzlies finished second at the Region 7AAAA championship behind Lambert (147). Sam Markley and Kaitlin Hinson are also expected to contribute for Creekview.
Burns, a senior, is another first-time competitor in the state tournament. Though Woodstock fell short of qualifying as a team, he shot 74 and defeated Walton’s John Yi to win the Region 5AAAAA championship.
Burns joins last year’s region champion, Will Brackett, as the second Woodstock individual to qualify for state in as many seasons.
“I’m excited to see how I play, and I feel like I’m well-prepared,” Burns said. “I talked to Will (Saturday) morning, and his advice to me was to just keep cool, stay focused and concentrate and try to hit the best that I can.
“I’m a little nervous, but I think that’s natural. It’s just some anxiety. There are a lot of good players that I’ll be competing against, but I know I’m good, too, so I’ll just out there and do the best that I can.”