by Gary Baines
Lauren Lehigh finds herself in some elite company this week.
The golfer from Loveland was among 12 girls -- and 24 junior golfers overall -- to be named to the 2018 Transamerica Scholastic Junior All-America Team by the AJGA. Since 1988, the honor has been given out to junior golfers who particularly excel on the golf course, in the classroom and in the community.
"These 24 exceptional young men and women are impressive on so many levels,” said Brian Forbes, director of sponsorships for Transamerica. “They exemplify sportsmanship on the golf course and citizenship in their schools and in their communities."
Lehigh, a senior at Loveland High School, earned the honor by placing in the top five in an AJGA open or invitational, then based on the following criteria: standardized test scores, grade-point average, school leadership and community service.
The 2018 Transamerica Scholastic Junior All-America team has an average AJGA-adjusted GPA of 4.6, an average SAT score of 1493.64 and an average ACT score of 34.62.
The honorees hail from California to Massachusetts and from Texas and Florida to Ontario, Canada -- in addition to two from China.
The Transamerica Scholastic Junior All-America Team will be honored at the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet on Nov. 18 in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Those named to the team earn a spot in the prestigious Rolex Tournament of Champions, which will be contested at PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens Nov. 17-22.
Golfers who have been named to the Transamerica Scholastic Junior All-America Team in the past include Matt Kuchar (1994), Casey Martin (1989) and Cristie Kerr (1994).
Lehigh finished third -- the best showing by any Colorado girl -- in June at the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior at Walnut Creek Golf Preserve in Westminster.
Lehigh sits atop the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado's 2018 points standings for the Girls Junior Tour. A verbal commitment to the University of New Mexico, Lehigh won the girls division of the Colorado Junior Match Play, one of the four JGAC majors. During the course of 2018 at JGAC-related events, she's won three times, placed second seven times and third three times. One of the runner-ups was in her title defense at the 4A state high school tournament.
Lehigh, a member of the Hale Irwin Player Program at CommonGround Golf Course for three years, helped lead Colorado to a fifth-place finish as a team at the Girls Junior Americas Cup competition at Hiwan Golf Club in Evergreen, where Lehigh tied for 14th place individually. She finished 13th nationally in Big I National Championship.