ETOWAH – Callista Rice scooted out of Etowah Golf Club & Lodge on Tuesday without the 3-A Western Regional championship trophy.
She had good reason to depart before the trophy ceremony. Rice, a senior at North Buncombe, tied for runner-up for which there is no ribbon. And she needed to meet her advanced placement environmental science class at Purchase Knob where they planned to find salamanders, test water quality and collect soil samples.
It’s just one of the many advance placement classes that Rice has taken in her four years. It’s not the easiest or the most difficult of the bunch. It may or may not apply later in life. All of the more difficult classes will count in some way next year when she’s on scholarship playing for Clemson.
“I hope they count for class credit and I don’t have to take a class,” Rice said. “But at least they’ll give me an upper-hand if I do have to take that class at Clemson.”
The difficult classes have helped her accumulate a 4.8 grade-point average. She has made one B in her career, not that she’s sore about it. Well, not that sore about earning a 92.3 in an English class.
Her resume of advance curriculum includes government, world history, statistics and at least one more she can’t remember.
She did her best to improve her grade in environmental science on Tuesday by hustling to Purchase Knob.
But she won’t be getting extra credit that most of the 33 students in her class will be earning for a separate task.
She’s not eating as a vegetarian for two week — bonus points for those who get through the weeks without eating meat.
“I can’t do it,” Rice said. “I need that Chik-fil-A sandwich, and I need my protein. I’m an athlete. I can’t get that protein from some protein-bar.”
Rice had the power on Tuesday, but not the precision to earn the top trophy. Hailey Pendleton from Sun Valley in Monroe earned medalist honors with a 2-under 72 on the course that played as a par-73. Ana Tsiros of Asheville High placed fourth with a 4-over 77. West Henderson’s Bradleigh Robinson won a sudden-death playoff after shooting a 99 and also advances to state as an individual.
Enka finished runner-up as a team with a 271, just two strokes behind Weddington. Kaitlinn Stewart shot an 85, Jasmine Donaghue shot a 92 and Lauren Elliott shot a 94 for the Sugar Jets who were undefeated in regular-season matches.
“When we played conference here last Monday, we shot 286,” Enka coach Bill Stewart said. “It’s not that we got 15 shots better in one week. It’s that we didn’t play all that well last week.
“I am very happy with how we played today.”
Rice and Haley McCrossan of Marvin Ridge each shot 1-under 72. Rice flew the green on two occasions including her 18th hole — No. 9 on the West course — and settled for a two-putt par.
“There are places that I should have saved a shot here or there,” Rice said. “I should have done a little better.”
Winning would have been nice. But it’s not big deal tying for second this week. The big tournament is next week, the 36-hole state championship on Monday and Tuesday at Longleaf Golf and Family Club in Southern Pines.
Rice has three top-10 finishes in the state championship. There’s only one goal this time.
“It’s time to bring it home,” Rice said. “The state championship is for me. Winning it is a personal goal.”
It’s one that she shares amongst high school competitors across the state, but not necessarily the golfers she sees throughout the summer on various junior tour events across the southeast and the country.
“Playing for state is not something everybody gets to do because a lot of girls that I know are home schooled or go to one of the academies where they go to school for half a day then practice,” Rice said. “This state championship is my last tournament until maybe February.”
That will give her a little time to rest, some time to apply advanced placement statistic lessons to her golf scores, and lots of time to eat a Chik-fil-A.