The Raiders fell short of their Region 5AAAAAA championship goal after finishing seven shots behind Etowah and claiming runner-up honors. The season was almost derailed for good at the Class AAAAAA sectional, when Walton’s No. 3 and No. 4 golfers were unable to compete due to Advanced Placement tests.
Ultimately, the Lady Raiders’ depth proved sufficient, propelling the team to another runner-up finish and a berth in the state championship.
Walton was finally rewarded for its previous angst at the state tournament, earning runner-up honors behind state champion Lambert and posting its best finish in program history.
Through it all, Walton coach Rick Myrick kept the team motivated and believing in themselves right up through the final stroke. For guiding the Lady Raiders to a second place finish at the state tournament, Myrick is the 2014 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Girls’ Golf Coach of the Year.
“It’s an honor for me, but it’s a compliment to the team because if you don’t have good players, you’re not a good coach,” Myrick said. “It’s not often you get the talent we had to come along or to have a player like Abbey Williams, so I have to find other girls to compliment her.
“In golf, you have to want it. Nobody can make you practice and make it a good practice, but yourself. You have to want to excel, and if you don’t have that desire to excel you won’t do it.”
Myrick’s team did have that desire, and it showed each year.
“We just have a process we go through and every year we’ve gotten better at the end then we were at the beginning,” Myrick said. “I told these girls when they were freshmen that if we didn’t win the state by the time they graduated I was going to retire. But, they finished second so I guess I’ll stick around.
“The second place finish is the highest that any golf team at Walton has ever finished, boys or girls, in 39 years and that’s quite an accomplishment. We had a meeting before the state tournament where we made a commitment to each other that we were going to play as good as we could and see what happened. We came out with a fantastic result.”
Lindsay Seagraves and Christina Dinatale played a big role in getting Walton to the finals. The duo replaced the Lady Raiders’ No. 3 and No. 4 golfers, Meredith Singer and Peyton Melcher, and played well to get the team to the state meet.
“I knew Abbey was going to play well, and I knew Autumn (Gabe) would be OK,” Myrick said. “I just hoped that either Lindsey or Christina would do a good job and Lindsey turned out to play really well. I think that will catapult her into a very good senior season.
“The exciting part was watching her interact with her teammates and knowing she was helping them accomplish the goal of getting to state. Anytime you can be a substantial part of your team, you have to be rewarded from the inside, and that’s what golf’s about anyway.”
Walton’s situation regarding sectionals could have been avoided if the Lady Raiders won the region title. Myrick didn’t mind, however, because it made his team stronger.
“Saying you didn’t win region is not a disparaging comment,” he said, “it’s more of a work harder comment. I want to feel like we probably outworked the other girls. They were satisfied to get to state, we weren’t and we showed up every day to practice. You have to do that in golf. You have to keep an even keel with not a lot of high and lows. Just wait for the next swing and see what happens.”