Lady Trojan swan song for senior star

Entire Carrollton girls golf team poses for photo
Photo: Corey Cusick

Corey Cusick/Times-Georgian

Serving as the face of the Carrollton High School girls' golf program over the past four years, Taylor Gray is swinging into the sunset of her sensational prep career.

And the senior standout has mixed emotions about what Monday has in store as she prepares for her final Lady Trojan Invitational with a 3:15 p.m. shotgun start at Sunset Hills Country Club.

"I love the Lady Trojan. It's always so nice for Sunset to host it. They run a great tournament out here," Gray said. "The coaches have put in a lot of work to make sure it runs smooth." 

This year's field features 11 of the top programs from the west Georgia area and beyond, including some local flavor with Central and Bremen on board to join host Carrollton. Rounding out the competition are state championship contenders across classifications such as Woodward Academy, Darlington, Columbus, Calhoun, Blessed Trinity, Mount Paran, Pace Academy and Smiths Station (Ala.).

First-year Carrollton head coach Jarrod Hogan said everything is shaping up well for a competitive round of golf with the area championships right around the corner.

"We're looking forward to all these spectacular teams come in and hosting a great Lady Trojan tournament," Hogan said. "Hopefully, the weather holds off on us and we get a good tournament in and we can shoot another great score to cap off our final event of the regular season."

Along with the strong play from Taylor Gray, the team has received a boost from some young talent rising up through the program, including Taylor's younger sister, Morgan, along with fellow freshman Caroline Fjeran and sophomore Abigail Duke.

"We have great camaraderie and it's been a good family atmosphere. We have great senior leadership and we have a very young team, as well. The freshmen and sophomores have really stepped up and filled some roles," Hogan said. "We're shooting as good as we've shot in the past few years since they won state."

With 11 girls on the squad this year, numbers are up for the Carrollton program, which won the Lady Raider Invitational and has placed in the top-five in every other event so far this spring.

As the defending area champion, Carrollton will host that event on May 1 at Oak Mountain Championship Golf Club, and community coach Joel Gray said both local courses have been tremendous staples of support for the program in recent years.

"We really want to thank Sunset Hills and Oak Mountain for letting us come out to both places and play. We've got really, really good community support from the golf courses, so it makes it easy for us and it's really good for the girls," Joel Gray said. "Justin Japour at Sunset Hills and Kevin Gibbs at Oak Mountain, they really deserve a shout out because they have really helped us out."

With a goal of a top-five finish in Class AAAAA this year, the Lady Trojans are hitting the stretch run of the spring campaign and are hopeful of using Monday's showcase as a springboard into area and, ultimately, state.

"So far we've shot way below a qualifying score every time. So hopefully we can continue that through area and at state. We want to win area. That's been a goal of mine for this year is to win that and get to state and hopefully play really well there, too," said Taylor Gray, who is the defending region and area champion en route to all-state honors in 2017.

Along with her success on the course, Taylor Gray has been just as impressive in the classroom, recently being selected as the West Georgia Region Most Positive Athlete.

But before she heads off to Georgia Southern on a full-ride Honors scholarship, the Carrollton senior has some unfinished business to attend to over the next few weeks.

"The last Lady Trojan, I want to play as well as possible in my last Trojan tournament ever. So it'll be a good experience to have some fun and play good golf," Taylor Gray said.