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PROGRESS 2024: Where are they now?: Northwest's Burger a part of powerful women's golf program at Dalton State

Mar. 30—When Northwest Whitfield High School graduate Sara Burger was choosing where to play college golf ahead of her 2022 graduation, she didn't have to look far from home to find one of the top NAIA programs in the country.

Burger's golfing career made the short trip over from Tunnel Hill to Dalton State College, where Burger now competes as a sophomore for a Lady Roadrunner program that was ranked fifth in the nation in the midst of the 2023-24 season in the latest NAIA coaches poll.

"The expectation is pretty high for our program," Burger said. "We're always ranked high, and we've always got those expectations. We just work really hard on the course and in the classroom."

Burger won an individual state championship in 2021 as a junior at Northwest, claiming the 4A individual title and becoming the first state champion in Northwest girls golf history.

Burger was a standout high school player, but, she said, so is everyone else when you get to college.

"I loved high school golf, and I thought I did really well," Burger said. "Taking the next step into college, I didn't really know what to expect. But, getting into college, all these girls were the top players on their high school teams too."

Plus, the move to college also brought with it another transition that Burger had to battle through.

"We only played nine holes in matches and tournaments (in high school), and college is usually 36 holes in a day, then 18 holes the next day to finish the tournament," she said.

Burger admits her time at Dalton State didn't get off to an ideal start. She missed some time due to sickness during her freshman year and ended up redshirting the year.

"That set me back a little bit, and I was feeling down," Burger said. "But it was really great for me. I focused on my game and got back in the gym and just worked on myself. Now, I'm in my sophomore year, and all those decisions paid off."

Burger said that the redshirt year allowed her the opportunity to get to work on bettering her game.

"I knew that I just had to find a way to get better. I wanted to fight back and find a way to help the team to win tournaments," she said.

And Burger did.

In the second tournament of her sophomore season, Burger finished with the second best score among the Lady Roadrunners. In her third, Burger finished third overall in the individual field in an October event in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, as Dalton State took the team win. In the Lady Roadrunners' first event of the spring portion of the schedule in February, Burger finished tied for fourth in the field as Dalton State claimed another team win.

Dalton State will play out the rest of the spring schedule, then play for the Southern States Athletic Conference Crown starting April 15.

Then, the Lady Roadrunners will try to check off the one big accomplishment that has so far eluded the program, despite its dominance in the decade that it's been around.

Burger won a state title at Northwest, now she wants to help her team to a national title at Dalton State.

"We're always looking to win a national championship," Burger said. "I have no doubt in my mind that we can do that with this group."