By playing among co-ed teams of mainly boys, the Oakcrest School Chargers made history during the recent Division II state private-school golf tournament.
Oakcrest became the first all-girls team to qualify for the high-school event.
In high-school golf in Virginia, both private and public teams consist of boys and girls. Oakcrest is an all-girls school. The Chargers qualified for the Division II state tourney by virtue of a fifth-place ranking in the polls, thanks to having a 7-0 regular-season record against other co-ed teams. The top six ranked teams qualified in each of the three divisions.
Oakcrest also was playing in the state event for the first time. This was just the third year for the varsity team, a fifth-year program that began first as a club group.
“This is so exciting for the school, and the girls worked hard for this,” Oakcrest coach Annie Smith said about the state tournament. “We have players from the seventh to 12th grades, and they have really come together as a team and formed a bond.”
At the 18-hole Division II state tourney on the par-72 Williamsburg National Golf Course, Oakcrest finished fifth with a 363 team score, one stroke behind fourth-place Stewart School and ahead of sixth-place North Cross (394). Hampton Roads Academy won with 319.
The Chargers were led individually by freshman Amelia Cho with a 3-over 75, tying her for third place and earning all-state honors. The winning score was 72.
“Amelia is a very good player and that was a typical score for her,” Smith said.
Oakcrest sophomore and co-captain Olivia Vigilante shot 82 to finish 13th. Kyla O’Byrne, another sophomore, had a 90 and was 18th. Junior Grace Colangelo tied for 34th with a 116 and senior co-captain Katiebelle Thompson was 37th with a 133.
Prior to the state tournament, Oakcrest finished its undefeated season with a 184-200 victory over John Paul the Great.
“I think part of our team’s success comes from our positive attitude and our team bond,” said Colangelo, who has played for Oakcrest for three seasons. “I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my game because of the help I get from Coach Smith and my teammates.”
Thompson played for the team all five years.
“For Katiebelle to get to play in the state tournament her senior year is really special for her,” Smith said.
Other Oakcrest players are seventh-graders Sofia Dechant and Brooke Crickenberger, freshmen Sarah Virginia Courtney and Kyleigh McMahon and sophomore Sophia Miller.
(Seventh-and-eighth-graders can be members of the team, but seventh-graders can’t compete in the state tournament.)
Smith, a recreational golfer who also coaches basketball and volleyball at Oakcrest and teaches math, started the Oakcrest golf team when she learned an interest existed. The team held various types of practices and took lessons the first two seasons, then became an official varsity sport in 2019, with about 10 players.
Smith doesn’t remember the team winning an event in 2019, but realized improvement was quickly coming.
“We would have been pretty good last season. But we held one practice and the season was canceled [because of the pandemic],” Smith said.
NOTE: In April, Cho finished fourth in the 12-13 girls age division at the Drive, Chip & Putt competition at Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament. Cho and Vigilante regularly compete on the Peggy Kirk Bell Girls Golf Tour. Cho tied for first in a recent event.