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Portal Golf claims third straight area title
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Portal golfers (from left to right) Caitlyn Girardeau, Layne Clark and Faith Reddick celebrate their Area 2 golf championship at Folkston Golf Club. - photo by Special to the Herald

    PORTAL — One of the smallest schools in all of Georgia is quickly becoming a big name in girls’ golf.
    The Lady Panthers of Portal lit up the links at Folkston Golf Club Monday to earn their third consecutive Area 2 championship. Portal also qualified for the Class A state tournament to be held next month at Goshen Plantation in Augusta.
    Juniors Faith Reddick and Layne Clark combined to blow past the field and secure another area title for the Panthers. Reddick was low medalist for the event while both Reddick and Clark were named to the All-Area 2 team.
    “The girls are performing,” Portal coach Jay Reddick said. “They deserve all the credit. They work hard on their game and I can’t swing the club for them when they’re competing. When this program started four or five years back, I never would have dreamed we’d be here.”
    Equally as impressive as the Panthers’ success on the course is the fact that they’ve done it with no room for error.
    In GHSA competition, girls teams will send out four players and count the two best individual scores toward the team total. Aside from Reddick and Clark, senior Caitlyn Girardeau is the only other member of the squad, meaning that Portal has just three scores to choose from in competition.
    That disadvantage grew even more on Monday as Girardeau was unable to compete due to injury. Reddick and Clark’s scores would have to be counted, no matter what, and both responded with stellar rounds.
    “That was big,” Jay Reddick said. “I know we can play well, but in golf, you never know what can happen.”
    Girardeau’s availability for the state championship remains in question, but the Panthers will be ready for the challenge, no matter the case.
    Now well-established as a force in this part of the state, Portal announced itself to the rest of Georgia earlier this spring. The Panthers travelled to Cleveland, Ga. for a 24-team tournament hosted by White County. The event featured teams from much higher classifications, including perennial powers from around metro Atlanta.
    At the end of the day, the smallest school in the field put up a great fight, finishing fifth overall.
    “I was a little surprised at how well we did,” Jay Reddick said. “I think that gave us some confidence, knowing we can compete against bigger schools.
    “Going to state, I think our girls are focused on competing for a state championship. We’ve accomplished a lot, so we don’t want to fall short of our biggest goal.”

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.