UC’s Stone has spot for golf on list of priorities

UC’s Stone has spot for golf on list of priorities
UC’s Stone has spot for golf on list of priorities | UC’s Stone has spot for golf on list of priorities
Messenger Sports Editor
The most-decorated female golfer in Union City High School history and only one to ever sign a college scholarship doesn’t want the sport to define her.
It was for that reason she chose Milligan College.
“I honestly believe I could play Division I golf, but I didn’t want golf to be just who I was,” UCHS senior Mollie Stone said Friday when inking a letter of intent to attend the Christian liberal arts NAIA school near Elizabethton. “I obviously still want to play, but I don’t want golf taking over my life completely.”
Stone set a new standard for future Lady Tornado linksters when she qualified for the state tournament three consecutive years, finishing sixth in a field of 55 players earlier in October after placing 26th and 22nd, respectively, in her first two trips. She fired a second-day 79 to skyrocket up the leaderboard, chipping in for eagle in the process in what she called the highlight of her prep career.
Stone, who plans to major in accounting, said she had a handful of other scholarship offers, but chose MC after visiting the northeast Tennessee campus last summer.
“It’s on a mountain and it’s just a gorgeous place,” she said of the school — located about 71⁄2 hours from Union City. “It’s perfect. I really liked the coach (Tony Wallingford), and I knew a few of the girls there because I’d played with them in other tournaments.
“It’s really classy and I know I’m going to get a super education there.”
Stone became familiar with the school when Wallingford saw her play in a junior amateur event in Murfreesboro last June and approached her father, Todd. She received and responded to a questionnaire for the school and visited the campus after playing in an event at Black Farm Country Club in nearby Johnson City in July.
Milligan has an enrollment of around 1,200 students and Stone will join a program that claimed the Appalachian Athletic Conference championship in just its third season of competition. The Lady Buffs earned a berth to the 2012 NAIA National Championships, and the program is currently ranked in the Top 50 nationally among 149 programs in its division, according to a school release.
Wallingford was thrilled to get the commitment from Stone.
“We are excited to have Mollie join us at Milligan. Her accomplishments are quite impressive and even more so when you consider she has only been playing competitive golf for three years,” the Lady Buff coach said. “We love her work ethic, her energetic personality, her commitment to academics and, obviously, her high golf potential.”
Stone, who played for Jason Qualls at UCHS, has been receiving individual instruction Lynn Sullivan of Murray, Ky., and has improved her game immensely the past three years.
Sullivan said his Lady Tornado pupil “has gotten better with every lesson, and that’s amazing with somebody who’s just been playing for three years.”
Stone — insisting she was “humbled” by the considerable support she’d received in the community — credited Sullivan with developing her swing. She also insisted her teacher shared her big-picture plan for the future.
“He wants me to be a better person than a golfer,” Stone said of Sullivan.
That fits in perfectly with her plan.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at mhutch@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 10.30.12

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