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Allen leads Brookwood to 8-AAAAA title, state berth

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips<BR
Brookwood freshman Taylor Allen sinks her putt on the back nine during the Region 8-AAAAA girls golf tournament on Tuesday. Allen took first place in the tournament followed by Grayson's Shian Poole.

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips

DACULA -- The last eight golfers walked into the Trophy Club of Apalachee's clubhouse within minutes of each other, all looking a little disheveled from a day in the rain Tuesday.

Everyone sat as scores were recorded, talking in hushed tones and waiting to see the results posted for the Region 8-AAAAA girls tournament.

Whispers about two really good numbers filtered through the room, excitement and nerves warring.

Of the eight scores left to be written on the leaderboard, it was the first two of those that caused the noise level to rise.

Both were from Brookwood.

First was defending region champion, Erin Cundiff. The senior had a tough day on the course and finished with a 97.

The next was freshman Taylor Allen. Her 82 caused a stir, earning her the region title and leading Brookwood to its second straight 8-AAAAA championship.

"I really wasn't thinking about it," said Taylor, composed and well-spoken in the aftermath of victory. "I was just thinking about the round and thinking about how well I played. It didn't really occur to me until my coach came up and gave me a hug."

She wasn't fazed by the weather or even aware of how close the race for first place was. Taylor, also the top-ranked student in her freshman class at Brookwood, just focused on the round.

"I personally like playing in the rain," Taylor said. "I find it fun. So it really didn't bother me today. I just kind of went out and played my own game.

"Anything can happen at any time. You can't control what another player shoots. I personally don't even like to keep my own score -- for that same reason. Because something great could happen the next shot."

There was one more score that got a reaction as it was posted in the clubhouse.

Grayson senior Shian Poole finished just two strokes off Taylor's pace and her 84 helped the Rams to a second straight state tournament berth.

Poole was Grayson's No. 3 golfer last year and has struggled to put everything together at once.

"She's extremely talented," Rams head coach Lenny Gregory said. "We knew that she was capable of this, but up to this point we haven't seen her do this. It's been a frustrating process for her, and for us.

"But the fact of the matter is, this kid has not given up and kept fighting, kept believing in herself. She comes out and posts that number and dang near is the low medalist."

Poole had a double bogey on No. 17 that kept her from tying Allen.

"But it was a great day for her," Gregory said.

Poole's score, combined with another fantastic freshman performance out of Julie Spangler, gave Grayson a 182 -- just four shots off Brookwood's winning 178. The Broncos got a 96 from Alison Gammie to secure the region title.

Unbelievably, Spangler just started playing golf in February. A competitive cheerleader, this was only her fourth 18-hole round ever and she shot under 100 for the first time.

"We preach all the time, you never know when your score's going to count," Gregory said. "And we've struggled. In our dual matches, we do not have a good record. We've been fighting, struggling all year.

"But we knew (Spangler) was going to be the difference today. I stayed with her on every hole today and I'm just really proud of her and Shian. Incredible day."

Grayson had not qualified for the state tournament before last year, but joins Brookwood as the region's representatives for the second straight spring.

The Broncos are perennial contenders. This is their seventh straight trip to the state tournament and with the last two region champs in the lineup, have an excellent shot at the title.

"And we still haven't played our best yet," Broncos' coach Steve Thompson said. "Hopefully, we'll play our best at state and we'll give them a run there."

Cundiff may not have posted a great number Tuesday, but she's been a leader on Brookwood's team for four years and has another chance to do so at state.

"I think her score has counted 64 of the 67 times now that she's played in high school," Thompson said. "She's played No. 1 for Brookwood High School since freshman first match.

"It was disappointing for her today, but the season's not over yet."