On a day when the Alexandria girls needed somebody to shoot a score that started with an “8,” Gregoria went out and posted a 6-over-par 78 on the Grand National Lake Course to keep her Valley Cubs team on track for a desirable top two finish in the 1A-5A championship.
Behind the athletically gifted ninth-grader’s best-ever score, the Valley Cubs posted 260 as a team and stand 19 shots behind heavily favored Hartselle, a 5A program that has won the title each of the last three years.
They hold a nine-shot lead over third-place Bayside Academy.
“We didn’t play bad, we just got off to a bad start,” Alexandria coach Brenard Howard said. “We just need to play normal (today), play like we usually play — consistent play by all of them — and I think it’ll be fine. We’d have to play a little bit bad (today) to lose our position right now.”
While the Alexandria girls will be slugging it out for a team title, both of Alexandria’s boys here positioned themselves near the top of the Class 4A individual leaderboard.
Junior Dalton Chandler shot a 3-over 75 and is three shots off the lead. Sophomore Cole McNeal shot a 76. They’ll play together at 11:48 a.m. today on the Links Course.
Gregoria didn’t have any birdies in her round, but she played both sides of the Lake in 39, and ended the day three shots off the individual lead in the division. Her previous best score was a 79 in the state sectionals.
“I was actually worried about it at first,” she said. “The greens and all that, we’re just not used to it from the course we play, but all in all it was good.”
The Valley Cubs really needed it. No. 1 player and lone senior Madison Williams fought through an emotional 90, while junior Courtney Randle counted a 92. Sophomore Jessica Howard completed the lineup with a 98 that should be remembered for a strong close that included pars on three of her last four holes and a near hole-out for birdie on 18.
“It was a tough day; I never could get anything going with my swing,” Williams said. “I like for my teammates to do well especially when I’m not doing well I like for them to kind of carry me through the day. That’s all you can ask for from your team.”
On the boys’ side, Chandler bounced back from a par-triple bogey-bogey start to play his final 15 holes in 1-under par. He made a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-5 12th and a two-putt birdie from the upper tier on the par-5 15th. His only hiccup coming home was a bogey on 18 after an extra shot of adrenaline flew his 9-iron approach from 150 yards over the green.
“After that start I thought I’d take par the rest of the way in to finish – and I got one better,” he said. “I had a bunch of good opportunities. I could’ve played good today. I should’ve played better.
“I feel like I can go back and play good (today). I think I can win, no doubt in my mind. I feel like I can shoot 68 with no problem. If I par that (second hole) I shoot even par. I hit the ball good all day long, it was just that second hole.”
McNeal had a wild round. It had six birdies, seven pars, double bogeys on both par-5s on the back, two bogeys and an 8 – on the first hole. He had every number on his card from 2 to 8 except 6.
“I could have played a whole lot better,” he said. “All I had to do was hit it in the fairway. My driver killed me today.
“The birdies are out there. I hit it far enough to hit wedges in there, but I’ve got to hit the ball straight. Really, that’s all it takes.”
Al Muskewitz covers golf for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.