Lady Warrior is on course

Published 9:54 pm Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nansemond River’s Shanice Mason played in the VHSL Girls State Open for the third straight year Monday and Tuesday at Red Wing Lake Golf Course in Virginia Beach. Mason looks over a pitch shot on No. 16 Tuesday. She finished with rounds of 74 and 82.

VIRGINIA BEACH – For nearly all of the high school golf season, it’s a co-ed sport. Boys and girls compete as teammates and opponents, even in the Virginia High School League state championship tourneys.

In the last event of the fall though, the best female golfers across all three VHSL groups have the course to themselves for the VHSL Girls State Open Golf Championships.

Nansemond River junior Shanice Mason was one of the 76 girls to make the field Monday and Tuesday at Red Wing Lake Golf Course.

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Simply being ready to play in the tournament was a feat for Mason, who, in addition to taking many honors courses at Nansemond River, is a dance student at the Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk.

Nansemond River’s main golf schedule finished with the Eastern Region Tournament three weeks ago. It’s up to Mason, and Travis Johnson, who made the Group AAA State Championship, to keep practicing on their own as they continue in the postseason.

What’s a challenge on its own is tougher still for Mason as Governor’s School requirements take up much of her afternoon and shrinking autumn daylight comes with October.

“I mainly try to get in as much practice as I can on weekends,” Mason said Tuesday following her final round. She’s a veteran of balancing academics, times two or more, and golf as this was her third year reaching the Girls State Open.

“I try to go after school, but by the time I get home and go back out, it’s getting dark. I went to a course last week, but everyone was gone by the time I got there. It was getting dark. The range was closed and everything,” Mason said.

For the most part, Mason found a way to schedule Governor’s School and golf season around each other. She completed her summer dance requirements in July, leaving August as open as possible for golf.

For the last couple weeks though, Mason said the most practice time she got in was this past weekend.

For most of the 36 holes, Mason stayed near the top of the leaderboard. She carded a two-over par 74 in the first round to be in 11th place heading to Tuesday.

Mason started with a birdie on the opening hole, a par four, and eagled the par-five No. 2 by chipping in for the three.

In the last round, Mason fired three more birdies, but also struggled during a couple stretches of holes to finish with an 82 and tied for 24th.

“It’s a bonus to still play pretty well. It gives me more confidence I can do this,” Mason said.

Lyberty Anderson of Manchester High School won the tournament, shooting six-under-par 136 (67-69). Maria Lu of McLean made a hole-in-one on No. 13, holing a six-iron from 146 yards.