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WEDNESDAY, MAY 16, 2007
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Higginbotham finishes 2nd in 5A golf championship
Athens takes 6th at state tourney

By Michael Wetzel
mwetzel@decaturdaily.com ∑ 340-2462

Athens High golf coach Don Bowling was in a better mood Tuesday afternoon. His No. 1 golfer delivered, and the Golden Eagles trimmed 18 shots off their Monday round to finish sixth in the Class 5A state boys golf championship at the Grand National Lake Course in Opelika.

Senior Joe Higginbotham shot the best round of his high school career, posting a 1-under 71 on the tough Robert Trent Jones Trail tract. That allowed him to finish as the tournament runner-up. Combined with his opening-round 74, he posted a 145 total. Briarwood Christian's Rosson Anderson won after following his 68 on the first day with a 69 for a 137 total.

"When you shoot 1-under out here, you're doing everything well," Bowling said. "For him to shoot 71 in his final high school round of golf is just great for him. It's a great way to go out."

After Monday's 338 team total, Bowling said his team could play much better. Tuesday, it proved it could. After beginning the day in seventh place, Athens shot 320 to move up a spot in the standings.

"They all played better today," Bowling said. "I really feel they all have learned this week being here, and it should help when they
come back next year. We've got a
lot of young kids, and they'll get better."

Athens finished a dozen strokes behind fifth-place Gardendale and 28 strokes ahead of seventh-place Arab. Briarwood shot rounds of 292 and 303 to win the 5A title with a sparkling 595.

Athens sophomore Andrew Rockwell took nine strokes off his first-round score and finished Tuesday with an 82. Rockwell finished tied for 37th.

"I'm pleased with the way Rockwell closed," Bowling said.

Decatur's Bill Nabors moved up three spots to 19th overall after closing with a 78.

In 1A-2A boys action, Falkville's Thomas Holt was impressive with a second-day 80 to finish at 165, good for a tie for 11th.

On the girls side, Hartselle senior Taylor Kirby sparkled with a closing-round 89 to finish 10th in 1A-5A competition. Her two-day total was 183.

Eleven shots behind her in 13th position was Decatur High sophomore Whitney Johnston, who closed with a 99. Ardmore eighth-grader Ashlee Beck had rounds of 97 and 98 to finish in 14th with a 195.

Etowah's Mallory Batson, who will play at Mississippi State next year with Decatur High product Suzanne Stanley, fired a 76-73 to capture medalist honors for 1A-5A. Batson also won the 2006 state girls title. Stanley won the 2005 event as a junior.

Central-Phenix City's Haley Wilson showed her superiority in the girls division, finishing the 36-hole tournament with a 5-under 139. She followed up an opening-day 68 with a 71 as medalist in the girls Class 6A competition.

Fairhope freshman Michael Ulmer carded a 7-under 65 on the second day to have the low round of the tournament.He was the 6A boys medalist at 144.

State prep golf tournament

Here are the final scores involving area schools of the Alabama High School Athletic Associationís golf championship at the par-72 Grand National Lake Course in Opelika on Monday and Tuesday.

Boys

Class 5A team

6. Athens 338-320--658

Individual

2. Joe Higginbotham, Athens 74-71—145

19. Bill Nabors, Decatur 80-78—158

T32. Craig Whitt, Athens 87-82—169

36. Will Morrow, Athens 86-85—171

T37. Andrew Rockwell, Athens 91-82—173

44. Brian Chandler, Athens 94-87—181

Class 1A-2A team

8. Falkville 269-266--535

Individual

T11. Thomas Holt, Falkville . 85-80—165

36. Josh Henderson, Falkville . 92-92—184

39. Nathan Knowles, Falkville 92-100—192

40. Dustin Gatlin, Falkville 101-94—195

Girls

Class 1A-5A team

4. Ardmore 349-326--675

Individual

10. Taylor Kirby, Hartselle . 94-89—183

13. Whitney Johnston, Decatur . 95-99—194

14. Ashlee Beck, Ardmore . 97-98—195

16. Courtney Medlen, Athens 98-108—206

17. Patricia Long, Hartselle 107-100—207

20. Whitney McAllister, Ardmore 134-108—242

22. Megan Pressnell, Ardmore 129-120—249

23. Haley Helums, Ardmore 123-134—257

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