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Lady Eagles shoot their way to state
From left to right: Autumn Whiten, Brittany Medlin, Alexis Allen, Allyson Ozburn, Sidney Roule and Katelyn Townley at Ashton Hills Golf Course.

With a combined score of 290 Eastside girls’ golf placed third at sectionals a little over one week ago, just seven strokes behind second place. The Lady Eagles will now try for a state championship on Monday when they travel to Applewood Golf Course in Keysville.

Eastside is coming off of its second straight Newton cup and its second straight appearance in the state championship. Last year the Lady Eagles finished 12th out of 16 team and this year the girls say that their goal is to finish in the top 10.

“We all push each other to our best ability. We’re just so close and everything,” Brittany Medlin, junior, said.

“We motivate each other,” Alexis Allen, junior, added.

With six players on the team (Medlin, Allen, Autumn Whiten, Allyson Ozburn, Sidney Roule, Katelyn Townley) dealing with different personalities could be hard, but not for this group.

“When it’s time to grind they get serious and when it’s time to have fun, they have fun. What else could you ask for. We’re having a great time. We’re really looking forward to this weekend,” Judy Smith, Lady Eagles’ head coach, said.

The entire team agrees, Smith has been the catalyst for their growth over the last two years while Smith says she just enjoys coaching the girls.

“It is a lot of fun. It’s very rewarding,” Smith said. “We have improved so much from when we started last season to where we are at the end of this season. It’s hard to describe how fulfilling that is for me. I had no idea how much I would actually get out of it when they asked me to do this. I thought I was qualified to do it, but I couldn’t imagine how much I would enjoy it and I do just really enjoy it.”

The team is joy to be around. They uplift each other when they’re down after a bad shot or just not playing well. The Lady Eagles have put in the work to be where they are today.

Smith agrees that success like what Eastside has experienced over the last couple of years doesn’t come without hard work, which for them begins at Ashton Hills Golf Course.

“This course right here will teach you anything you need to know,” Allen said.

Four times a week, if not more, the Lady Eagles meet at Ashton Hills to practice. Smith says that they work on each player’s weakness and overall game. She added that they just try and get better each day.

Early on in the season, Smith says the team practiced mostly on the range and the putting green, but once the matches started they practiced different in-game situations. Smith says they play almost every day if it’s not raining and she thanks Ashton Hills for being so adaptable to the Lady Eagles, as they let the girls practice there as much as they can.

“There’s no other way to prepare for this game. You just have to play,” Smith said.

One of the things that the Lady Eagles excel at is knowing the rules which may not seem like a big thing, but it is. Smith says when the team plays other schools, they look to the Eastside girls for rulings because they know the rules and sometimes other teams don’t.

Smith has gotten to know her players increasingly over the past couple of years. She says she doesn’t understand how you couldn’t love coaching the group that she has.

The Lady Eagles say that with their increase in success comes a bar to set a higher goal next season. They want to keep up their excellent work, try harder and work harder to get better results.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to be there. That’s one of our goals we shoot for early in the season. We want to win the Newton cup then once we get that we set our sights on region and we just kind of take one step at a time. Let’s get to region and do a good job at region then let’s get to sectionals and get out of sectionals and then let’s get to state,” Smith said.

“Nothing left to do, but go there and enjoy it.”