Fallen classmate inspires S.C. high school girls golf team

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It wasn't hard to pick out the five members of the girls' golf team of Hartsville (S.C.) High School at Monday's Class 3A Lower State Championship Tournament at The International Club in Murrell's Inlet. The five members of the Red Foxes were clad in red T-shirts with ROUSE spelled out across the front and the number 74 emblazoned on one cheek.

The name and number honored a senior classmate and football player, Ronald Rouse, who had died of a sudden heart attack a month earlier. At 6-foot-3 and 335 pounds, Rouse was an impressive presence on and off the football field. In a release, Hartsville principal Dr. Charlie Burry said that Rouse “was a joy to know. He was a big, friendly guy who enjoyed school, playing ball, and life.'

On the Monday after Rouse's death, many students and teachers wore red as part of 'Red for Rouse' day. Before their appearance in the Lower State Championship, the girls of the golf team decided they wanted to do something similar. They bought red T-shirts and press-on letters to spell 'Rouse.' Then they each painted a '74' on one cheek.

Led by a 1-under-par 71 by junior Eden Howard, Hartsville carded a team score of 333 to finish 15 strokes ahead of second-place Hilton Head.

'It was a late night and long day, and I was tired,' said Hartsville junior Claire Brown, who shot a 1-over-par 73, 'but I knew we would not let up.'

For those who believe in omens, it didn't seem possible Hartsfield could lose. Monday would have been Ronald Rouse's 19th birthday.