Photos Andy Calvert
Two Golflers looking to grab state titles, a baseball player hoping his team makes a run, and a track athlete aiming to break school records all spoke about the spring season and what they hope to accomplish for the Darlington Tigers.
Ther Kotchasanmanee, a sophomore golfer from Thailand, already knows what it’s like to win a state title, as she claimed the state championship in her freshman season last year. This year, she’s hoping to do it all again.
“My goal is to win another state championship. I was kind of shocked last year when I won,” she says. “I practice so hard, and it was nice shooting 11-under par. I didn’t think I would win it last year, but I did.” For Kotchasanmanee, playing golf at Darlington and in the United States proved a bit different from her native country. “During COVID, I couldn’t do anything, so I wanted to come to America,” she says. “I love playing golf for a school and having teammates. It’s a new thing for me because we don’t have golf teams or high school golf in Thailand.” The sophomore says she enjoys Darlington’s large campus and hanging out with friends, but she also says she is focused on getting better. “This year I plan to do my best and try harder to play better,” she says.
Logan Floyd knows what college holds for him after he signed a scholarship to play baseball for Carson Newman earlier this year. What the senior hopes, is that he and his teammates can learn from past experiences to go out on a positive note.
“My personal goal is to try to make first-team all-state this year. I’ve been pretty close the past couple of years,” he says. “As for team goals, I hope that we can get together and focus and just take the season seriously.”
The past couple of seasons have been tougher for the Tigers having to face some rough opponents.
“The toughest games we’ve played the past couple of seasons have been against Mount Paran. They have been one of the top teams in our class in the state the past couple of years,” he says. “I think playing them has made us better and hopefully we’ve learned from it and can use that experience to do well in the region this year.”
Senior sprinter and pole vaulter Link Lignell has some lofty goals for not only himself but for his teammates as well this season. “I want us to be able to break the school record in the 4X400 meter relay, and we all want to run under 50 seconds. I also want to break the school record of 14 feet in the pole vault,” he says. “I also want to run 50 to 51 seconds in the 400 and hopefully go to state and place well.”
Lignell says he looks up to Swedish pole vaulter Armand Duplantis, the current world record holder in the event. “One of my biggest role models is Armand Duplantis. He has vaulted over 20 feet. I love watching how he vaults, and he definitely inspires me to work harder,” he says. Along with the goals of breaking school records, Lignell hopes to possibly land at a good academic school where he can continue to pole vault.
“I’m striving to go Division I and maybe go to a school in the A-Sun or Patriot League,” he says. “I think my grades are good for an academic school with a good track program.”
Much like his counterpart on the girls’ golf team, Rocco Lopez, left home to come to America and compete at Darlington. “I’m from Kingston, Jamaica. I just really wanted to leave Jamaica and get a better education and get better competition in golf,” he says. “I really enjoy Darlington and getting to travel and play with the team. We are a really close group of guys, and we have fun.”
Lopez is also hoping to make a run at a possible state title this season. “I’m really hoping to enjoy this season with my team, and hopefully we can also play well,” he says. “And I want to win the state championship.” Lopez says he enjoys playing at Coosa Country Club, but also likes a challenge when it comes to golf courses.
As for the future, he’s gotten a few scholarship offers but is still undecided although he does say he hopes to study architecture or engineering in college.