Nov. 17—Kerri-Anne Cook earned the Class AA individual state championship Oct. 4 on the Speidel Course at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, becoming the first female to win a state golf title in West Virginia.
The win carried the Westside High senior into state history and her community continues to express their pride in her accomplishments.
Just after her championship win in October, the school and community honored her with Kerri- Anne Cook Day. She has also been named a Register-Herald Athlete of the Week and an online reader's poll winner, taking 47.6 percent of the votes.
On Thursday, Oceana officials hosted a celebration at One Voice One Cup that included state and county representatives.
"She is a super young lady," Mayor Tom Evans emphasized. "We're just real proud, real proud..."
Evans, who served as master of ceremonies, presented Cook with a Certificate of Recognition from U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to kick-off the celebration.
"Kerri-Anne, you have set a new standard for excellence in the world of high school golf. Your dedication to the sport has not only brought honor to you, but also inspired others to reach for new heights," the certificate said.
Evans also presented her with a trophy from the town and a gift from area businesses and individuals.
On behalf of the West Virginia State Senate, Sen. David "Bugs" Stover, R-Wyoming, presented Cook with a Certificate of Recognition.
"Whereas, Kerri-Anne Cook's interest in golf began at the age of 3, when she began playing with her dad and brothers," the certificate reads. "Her passion for the game of golf grew during the ensuing years, as she dedicated herself to perfecting her craft through hard work, training, and determination; and Whereas, in 2023, after finishing in the top 10 the previous two years... competed in her third state championship as a team member of the Westside High School golf team..."
She placed third in 2020, as a freshman, and sixth in 2022.
Her brother, Caleb, was a member of the 2018 state championship team.
"It's the first time in West Virginia history a girl has won the championship and she's from right here (in Oceana)," Stover said. "That's got to feel good, doesn't it?"
"To win... takes a lot of talent, a lot of dedication, and a lot of hard work," noted Brian Helton, a candidate for state senate.
Cook "represented the community in a tremendous way," Helton emphasized.
He also lauded the support provided by Cook's parents, Dale and Kelly, adding that the country could use more parents like them.
"What a mentor you are to our community youth," emphasized Stephanie Bailey, representing the Oceana Chamber of Commerce and Summit Bank. On behalf of the bank, Bailey presented Cook with a gift basket.
"Kerri-Anne, bless your heart, you are awesome," emphasized Mike Cook, a member of the Clearfork Valley Golf Course Board of Directors and the Wyoming County assessor.
"If she never hit another golf ball, I'd be proud to call her my daughter."
Cook also noted she is the third champion from the area, following Benny Ray Bowles and Colin Bowles.
He predicted that his grandson, Ayden Padlik, the current Wyoming County Middle School golf champion, will follow in their footsteps.
He also displayed a 1958-59 list of the original Clearfork Valley Golf Course stockholders, who paid $100 each to get the golf course started. Gov. Jim Justice's grandfather was one of the board members. As board members are now paying some of the costs out of their own pockets to maintain the golf course, he was going to present the governor with his portion of the costs, he joked.
Jeremy Warrix, Cook's coach through high school, said she'd played along with the top golfers in the state and been successful. He said he knew she would be successful at whatever she endeavored in the future.
"She put in the work. I was there to guide; she had to play.
"A lot of kids don't have that drive," Warrix said. "Those who do, get the results."
When it became Cook's turn at the podium, she lauded her parents and family as well as those who have supported her.
"I couldn't have done it without them.
"I wouldn't be playing golf," she said of her parents. "I wouldn't be half as good..."