In less than five years, the Portal girls golf squad has gone from nonexistent to the top of the mountain.
Faith Reddick turned in a low medalist-winning round of 86 while Layne Clark fired a 100 and Caitlyn Girardeau added a 105 in Monday’s GHSA state championship at Goshen Plantation in Augusta. When the scorecards had all been tallied, the Panthers stood alone in the Class A Public competition, earning Portal its first team state title in school history.
“I’m extremely proud of our girls,” Portal coach Jay Reddick said. “They’ve been putting in hard work since this program started. Today, we accomplished what we set out to do.”
In the Panthers’ first season on the course, they failed to make the state tournament field. Since then, they’ve been nothing short of dominant. Three consecutive area championships have followed, along with increasingly strong performances at the state championship.
As Portal hit the course Monday, they were confident that this could be the year they finally broke through at the biggest tournament of the year.
“There were teams we hadn’t seen,” Jay Reddick said. “But we’ve been keeping up with scores throughout the season. Looking at the area and sectional scores, we knew we’d have a good shot if we played well.”
The Panthers figured that Schley County was going to be their biggest test. And in a twist of fate, the Panthers and Lady Wildcats were paired together on Monday. After nine holes, the teams were outplaying the rest of the field, but were dead even with each other as Reddick led by six strokes and Clark trailed by six.
That’s when Portal found a gear that Schley didn’t have.
All three Panthers scored as well or better on the back nine than they did on the front. At the end of the day, Portal finished an impressive 11 shots clear of second place Schley and put a dominant exclamation point on a season to remember.
“I just told our team they did great,” Jay Reddick said. “I didn’t know what else to say. It’s been a special thing to see them progress and perform.”
Portal will bring the 2016 state title trophy back to town, but the Panthers' story could easily have a few more chapters remaining.
Both Reddick and Clark return next season, making back-to-back championships the new goal.
“We proved that we can be the best,” Jay Reddick said. “Now it’ll be a little different. I know who will be ranked at the top and who everyone will be chasing next year.”
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.