By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Ally McDonald and Chad Ramey are no longer technically teammates, but they’re still friends, they’re playing for the same school, and they’re both still doing big things.
McDonald and Ramey are leading their respective Mississippi State golf teams into SEC Championship play this weekend, with both events starting today. The women are playing at Birmingham’s Greystone Country Club, while the men are at the Sea Island Golf Course in St. Simons Island, Ga.
It wasn’t too long ago that McDonald, a sophomore, and Ramey, a junior, were winning state championships together for Itawamba AHS in Fulton. There was no girls team, so McDonald played with the boys and more than held her own.
“I really wanted to prove people wrong, that I could play with the boys and compete, because just playing with them is not proving anything,” McDonald said.
She’s carried that chip on her shoulder to MSU and is now among the SEC’s best.
McDonald has led the Lady Bulldogs to nine consecutive top-10 finishes, and she has recorded a top five in four of her last six events. McDonald’s scoring average of 72.41 ranks third in the SEC and 17th nationally, and she’s on pace to set a single-season school record.
As for Ramey, he has a team-best 72.03 scoring average and won Auburn’s Tiger Invitational last month. The Bulldogs have won three of their last four tournaments, including a sudden-death playoff win over UAB at the inaugural Old Waverly Collegiate Championship in West Point last week.
“I feel like we still haven’t played to our full potential yet, but we’re getting there, I believe,” Ramey said.
Both McDonald and Ramey qualified for the NCAA regionals last year, and both have designs on going there again and then going beyond, to nationals. They feel they belong among the nation’s elite.
“I can compete at the national level,” McDonald said. “With SECs coming up this following weekend, if I didn’t expect to win, then there would be no point in going to compete.”
Said Ramey, “It’s just a matter of going out there and doing what I have to do to do it, but I know I’m very capable of doing it now, because I’ve kind of proved it this semester.”
The two have held these sort of high expectations of themselves for years. They knew each other before joining forces at IAHS, having used the same teaching pro at Old Waverly, V.J. Trolio. It’s hard to keep in touch as much these days, even being on the same campus, because their schedules are so different.
But they play together during the summer, and that Fulton connection is a strong one.
“We see each other from time to time,” McDonald said. “Chad’s doing really well, and it’s cool to experience this together.”