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Girls Remain Perfect, Repeat as State Golf Champs

Rudy Brandl

Consistency, depth and determination propelled the Wardlaw+Hartridge girls’ golf team to its second straight state team championship at Raritan Valley Country Club on May 16. After falling behind by a few strokes early, the Rams remained steady and did not panic as weather conditions began to deteriorate with a storm coming. Fueled by a balanced attack with four players in the top 20, W+H cruised to an 18-shot victory over Holy Angels. 

Claire Lu ’24 led the Rams with a 4-over-par round of 76 that ranked eighth in the individual standings. Senior captains Grace Lu ’22 and Jenelle Valera ’22 fired rounds of 77 and 78, respectively, and Sarah Shao ’24 shot 79 to produce the winning team score (310). Teammates Tanya Chowdary ’24 (84) and Ava Choi ’25 (85) also played well and finished in the top 36.

“I’m so proud of what our team has accomplished and the positive attitude my teammates and I kept throughout the day today,” Jenelle said. “We knew we had some pressure to repeat our successful state tournament from last year, but we all made sure to play to the best of our abilities while still having fun and keeping smiles on our faces. The weather conditions were a little rough today, but I’m glad we were all able to pull through.”

The Rams have played with a target on their backs all season after rolling to the state title last spring. Rotating different players into the lineup in dual meets and even in last week’s sectional and county tournaments did not stop the team from remaining undefeated for the second straight year. Veteran head coach Jim Howard put his best team on the course to defend the title and the girls executed.

“We knew the competition at the NJ Tournament of Champions would be more difficult this year compared to last year. This year, there were four other excellent teams that all could have won the tournament if we did not play up to our potential. However, the other teams did not have our depth,” Coach Howard said. “This tournament was only the third time this season that we were able to field our strongest lineup, due to AP exams, girls playing in out-of-state tournaments, and other commitments. At the halfway point of the state final, the girls did not know how tight the scores were, but they just did better over the final nine holes to pull away and have a relatively easy win.”

Claire made three birdies to lead the Rams, while Grace and Jenelle had two each and Sarah made one. The team’s top four players combined for 39 pars, with Grace posting 11 to lead the way. 

“It feels great to win again,” Grace said. “This year, our team’s goal was to become state champs again, so to be able to fulfill our goal is really cool.”

The Rams will wrap up their season seeking to repeat as team champions in Friday’s State Prep Tournament at The Peddie School.