Cholla High School junior Audrey Moreno will tee off at 11:48 this morning at Silverbell Golf Course in the Division II state tournament.

When her ball is flying through the air on the par-4 10th hole, Moreno will beam with pride whether it lands in the middle of the fairway or out of bounds.

A beginner three years ago, Moreno has played one season with the boys team and has helped resurrect the Chargers' girls program.

She takes to the links today because she made it happen for herself.

"I love how it's just you out there on the course," Moreno said. "You don't have to count on anyone else, and no one is counting on you. It's just you, the ball and the hole."

Here's Moreno's journey to her first state tourney.

Thrown into the fire

As a freshman, Moreno was asked by a teacher to join the golf team.

A girl "who will try anything one time," as her dad Gilbert says, Audrey agreed to give it a shot.

"I didn't think I would like it," Moreno said. "I grew up with basketball and softball. My first thought was 'golf counts as a sport?'"

Her dad called a friend to come over and show Moreno how to grip a club.

Moreno did as told and stood behind the friend to see the grip, she said. "The next thing that happened is he hit me with his club on his follow-through.

"All I could think is, oh my goodness, this is how I'm learning how to play golf."

A few days later she was on the first tee of El Rio Golf Course in her first match.

Playing with the boys

Cholla canceled its girls golf program as Moreno's sophomore year began. The school didn't have a coach, and there weren't enough players to field a team.

She joined the boys team. And when the season ended, two things were clear: Somehow, she would help the Chargers field a girls team, and she wanted to qualify for the state tournament.

The chase for state

After spending the offseason playing in local tournaments and working on her game almost daily, Moreno focused on restarting the Cholla girls team.

"My parents really helped me, and we had a presentation to Cholla about how it could benefit me and other girls at the school," Moreno said.

Cholla worked to find a coach and found Gregory Nussberger, who had several years of experience coaching junior golfers.

Moreno found two girls at the beginning of the season, but neither committed full time.

Moreno did. After a slow start, she shot her first state qualifying score in mid-September when she fired a 44 at Dell Urich.

"I knew from Day 1 that she had a great chance of getting to state," Nussberger said. "She has a super attitude. She's a hard worker, and she wanted it."

Moreno has essentially become Cholla's one-girl golf team. She competes against other girls (rather than boys as in 2011). Cholla hasn't scored as a team in any meet this year because it doesn't field a full squad of four.

But that hasn't stopped Moreno.

She achieved eight qualifying scores (three more than needed) and broke 40 twice, scoring a 38 at Rolling Hills and a 39 at Fred Enke.

"I didn't know the feeling it would bring when I actually qualified," Moreno said. "I can't wait to get out there and give it my best."

Girls golf state schedule

Today (opening round)

• Division I, 7:30 a.m., at Aguila Golf Course in Laveen

• Division II, 10:45 a.m., at Silverbell Golf Course

Saturday (final round, same sites)

• Division I, 7 a.m.

• Division II, 7:15 a.m.

Boys golf state schedule

Monday (opening round)

• Division I, 7:30 a.m., at Aguila Golf Course

• Division II, 10:45 a.m., at Silverbell Golf Course

Tuesday (final round, same sites)

• Division I and II, 7:30 a.m.

Cross country sectionals schedule

Today at Crossroads Park in Gilbert

• Girls: Division I, 1:40 p.m.

• Boys: Division I, 2:15 p.m.

Saturday at Marana High School

• Girls: Division II, 8:15 a.m.; Division III, 9:45 a.m.; Division IV, 11:15 a.m.

• Boys: Division II, 9 a.m.; Division III, 10:30 a.m.; Division IV, noon