South Charlotte

Girls' golf preview: Knights return a solid core this season

The Ardrey Kell girls' golf team did it all last year, winning the Southwestern 4A conference and 4A Western Regional titles on their way to a dominating performance in the state championship at Pinehurst, winning by 11 shots to cap an undefeated season.

The Knights' next challenge will be to stay on top with a solid core returning to a team that has lost only one match in the last two years.

Coach Bart Whitney and the Knights will have to do it without their No. 1 player from last year, all-state golfer Allison Emrey, now playing at Wake Forest.

"Every year is unique, with a new dynamic of players and talents," said Whitney. "But there is a lot of pride that goes with playing on the Ardrey Kell (girls') golf team now, and I think we have worked very hard this summer."

Junior Allyson Markiewicz will take over the top spot and appears ready after finishing sixth at the 4A West Regional meet and ninth at the state tournament, earning first-team All-Observer honors in the process. Markiewicz is also among the top junior players in the state, according to Whitney.

Junior Emily Stinson will also be key for the Knights, starting at No. 2 after scoring at both the regional and state meets last year.

"We are going to depend on Allyson and Emily to go and post great scores for us in every meet this year," Whitney said. "After that we will hope for a couple different girls to step up and play their best golf."

Senior Amanda Nguyen was also one of the team's top six golfers from last year.

Three freshmen also are capable of contributing, with Megan Cullip leading the pack. Cullip, who already has made noise on the junior circuit, should be among the Knights' top talents in a hurry. Brianna Frank and Haley Lubas, both freshmen, also will have a chance to be factors.

"We definitely have a lot of young players that we will depend on this year," Whitney said. "But I think all of these girls have a lot of talent."

Ardrey Kell will be favored win the Southwestern 4A again, with Myers Park - second in 2010 - in rebuilding mode, after losing four key seniors, while Providence High should be on the rise as its young talent has acquired the necessary experience.

Whitney knows a lot has to happen between now and November for the team to contend for state and regional titles; for now, however, they will take a step by step, "goal-oriented," approach, as always.

"We will set individual goals for each player and then specific goals for our team, like every year," said Whitney, who is in his fourth year as the head coach at Ardrey Kell.