Girls Golfers Capture First State Championship in Program History

Durham Academy’s girls golf team won the program’s first-ever N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association state championship on Monday. It was sweet success for the program, which has notched five runner-up finishes in the 12 years since it was established. Leading the way for the Cavs was eighth-grader Jenna Kim, who earned medalist honors — the youngest-ever student to win the NCISAA girls golf championship as an individual.

“I was super excited when I found out our team won because I knew this meant a lot to everyone on our team. I was also very happy with my score and excited when I became medalist!” she said. “Winning states was so much more fun and exciting than individual tournaments because everyone worked together to win, and doing everything with a team is much more fun.”

Overall, the team finished the tournament (played at Bryan Park in Greensboro) ahead of North Raleigh Christian Academy with a 7-under-par 209: Jenna Kim scored 66 (6 under par), followed by sophomore Saia Rampersaud (71), senior Ona Lukes (72), senior Kayley Kim (78) and sophomore Chloe French (82).

“Being able to help these ladies win their first state title in school history as a new coach is a true honor,” said Kevin Wicker, who began his tenure as head coach this fall. “The team has been so successful because they are all true friends with each other and love being together.”

Director of Athletics Andy Pogach said he was thrilled for the team to find such success in capping off a season in which they also won the prestigious North State Girls’ High School Challenge tournament and the Triangle Independent School Athletic Conference championship.

“Both Coach Wickers [head coach Kevin Wicker and assistant coach Michael Wicker] were instrumental in leading these girls on and off the course this year and guiding them through the ups and downs of a high school golf season,” Pogach said. 

This year’s championship season builds on a foundation created by trailblazing players and head coach Greg Murray, who retired this summer after having taught and coached at DA for 43 years.

“A huge shoutout to our friend and former colleague Greg Murray, who started the girls golf program a little over a decade ago,” Pogach continued. “Greg built this program from the ground up and led the team to five NCISAA runner-up finishes. It was only fitting that Greg was at the event Monday to witness the team’s state championship.”

Murray now lives with his family in Colorado but couldn’t miss the chance to possibly see the Cavs win the state title. 

“Last season, I truly felt that we had the best team in the state,” he recalled, “but in a one-day event, especially in golf which has so many variables, anything can happen.”

Knowing that 2021–2022 was his final school year at DA, he helped recruit Wicker to lead the girls and boys golf programs.

“I told Kevin that I was sharing with him an incredible gift in both teams!” Murray said. “He and his son, Michael, brought the perfect blend of expertise, professionalism and fun to assist these girls in maximizing their potential.

“I just HAD to fly across the country to join them as they pursued their ultimate goal.  I recognized right away that they had a renewed mindset. … I watched as they battled some adversity and rose above it to not only win, but win convincingly, setting the NCISAA record for the lowest team score ever! … These girls are representing all of the girls who blazed the trail for them.”

For each member of the team, the championship will likely rank among their top memories out on the links, and it’s one that their families will cherish as well.

“I am especially happy for our two seniors, Ona Lukes and Kayley Kim, both members of longtime DA golf families,” Pogach said. “Ona’s three brothers all competed for the Cavs, while Kayley’s sister Ashley was one of the founding members of the girls golf program. To have their final round of their careers end with the joy of winning a state championship is a special moment and one that they will never forget.”

Wicker hopes it’s just the first of many: “With having such a young team, we're expecting to win a couple of more before these ladies graduate. This team has character, and it showed on Monday.”