Goal reached for Warrior senior

Published 10:34 pm Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Last fall, Nansemond River’s Nicole Hemmis missed out on making the Group AAA Eastern Region Tournament by one stroke.

So through all of the winter, spring and summer, Hemmis had a clear goal in front of her. On Wednesday at Sleepy Hole Golf Course, she completed that goal and she let her emotions be known.

“I feel I played really great. I’m so excited,” said Hemmis, a senior, after shooting 78 on Wednesday for a two-round total of 158 that gave her one of the seven individual spots into the regional tournament.

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Fellow Warrior Travis Johnson joined Hemmis with a 161 total. King’s Fork’s Andrew Cospelich shot 163 over the two rounds to earn an individual spot.

“I’ve definitely had this as a goal since this is my last season. I was definitely going to get to regionals. It’s like a dream,” said Hemmis.

Part of that’s because of how Hemmis started on Nansemond River’s golf team as a freshman. Hemmis had been playing golf for about a year before joining the Warrior team.

“I’ve improved by at least 20 strokes since my freshman year,” said Hemmis.

The Eastern Region Tournament is set for Oct. 5-6 at Sleepy Hole Golf Course, which is good news for the three Suffolk qualifiers, since a lot of their season has been spent there. Hemmis had her best round of the season, a 76, at Sleepy Hole.

“With this being the first time, I’ll try to just play it the best I can,” said Hemmis.

Hickory’s John Dawson was the district’s medalist, shooting one-under par 71 on Wednesday for a one-under par total of 143. Hickory’s Lauren Coughlin was one shot behind Dawson.

Western Branch won the district championship with a team total of 611 (+35). Grassfield, which went undefeated through nine district matches in the regular season, surprisingly finished fourth. Western Branch and Grassfield already had team berths into the Eastern Region Tournament. Great Bridge finished second, 19 shots behind the Bruins, and will join them. The seven best players aside from Western Branch, Grassfield and Great Bridge earned individual spots into the regionals.

In addition to Hemmis and Johnson advancing, the tournament was a sign of a successful season for the Warriors. NR finished fifth of 10 schools.

“I’m very happy. These two rounds were our two best round of the year,” said Nansemond River head coach Craig Stephenson. NR’s Gene Hong and Shanice Mason missed out on regional spots by two and three shots respectively.

Mason will get to go on to regional qualifying for the VHSL State Girls Open Golf Championship. Hong joined the team, and practically the sport, a couple weeks into the season. Hong was quickly one of the top four scorers for Stephenson, but was even better on Tuesday and Wednesday, shooting 85 and 82. An 89 was his low score of the season before the district tournament.

“This is really something to build on for next year. We’ll lose only one player (Hemmis),” said Stephenson.