Pinewood star Katelyn Dambaugh in hunt for 10th state title

Katelyn Dambaugh of Pinewood Prep, who has played on nine state championship teams.. (Leroy Burnell/postandcourier.com/3/1//2013 Buy this photo

Katelyn Dambaugh is one championship ring away from having one for every finger, thumbs included.

Dambaugh, a two-sport star at Pinewood Prep, just ordered her ninth state championship ring after helping the girls basketball team win its third straight SCISA state title. She’s going after No. 10 now that the Pinewood boys golf season has begun.

Yes, she plays for the boys team.

Dambaugh can drive the ball 280 yards despite her size and stature — she’s 5-6 and might weigh 110 pounds.

“It would be pretty awesome to go out with 10,” said Dambaugh, a senior who played a key role in the boys’ successful state title bid in 2011.

“I think the SCISA record is nine or 10. I would like to finish with 10. That’s a nice, even number.”

Two other SCISA athletes have won 10 championships — Pinewood Prep’s Malcolm Reed and Wardlaw Academy’s Kara Beck.

Reed was on six teams that won state championships in soccer and played on four basketball teams that won state titles. He graduated in 2009.

Beck won titles in volleyball (4), softball (4) and basketball (2). She graduated in 2011.

Dambaugh’s shot at a 10th championship is possible only because of a change of heart she experienced two years ago. Dambaugh said she felt burned out and was ready to walk away from golf, the sport that eventually earned her a scholarship to South Carolina.

After doing some serious soul-searching and having a talk with her parents — Cindy and E.G. — and coaches, Dambaugh decided to keep playing.

“I realized it was what I was supposed to be doing,” she said.

Dambaugh’s parents played golf and she picked up her first club at age 6. She joined the Northwood Academy golf team when she was in the fifth grade and played on two state championship teams for the Chargers before transferring to Pinewood Prep after her freshman year.

She’s played on three basketball and girls golf teams that won state titles at Pinewood Prep. Throw in the state championship as a member of the boys golf team, and that brings her total to nine.

Dambaugh averaged 12 points for the basketball team that won the state title last month. She said it was her most satisfying championship because Pinewood beat a talented Heathwood Hall team that featured Aja Wilson, rated the top junior basketball player in the country by recruiting services.

Pinewood Prep golf coach Greg Baechtle said no one questions Dambaugh’s ability to compete against boys.

“Everyone knows who she is. No one makes any jokes,” he said. “I run into parents from other teams who say they came to the match because they wanted to see her play.

“She’s small, but she gets incredible, incredible torque. She explodes through the ball.”

Her biggest and best accomplishment, however, might be an individual performance. Dambaugh was the runner-up at the 2010 U.S. Girls Junior Golf Championship when she was 15.

“That probably was the first time most people heard of me,” Dambaugh said. “And until then, I didn’t know what I could really do.”

Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @PandCPhil

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