Warriors shoot for more

Published 9:31 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Nansemond River senior Shanice Mason watches her drive on No. 17 at Sleepy Hole Golf Course on Tuesday. Mason shot an 83 to help Nansemond River to a 316-358 win against Western Branch.

Nansemond River opened its golf season well ahead of where most squads around the district, or even the state, would love to be, beating Western Branch 316-358 at Sleepy Hole Golf Course on Tuesday.

“I’m expecting a lot. That’s why I kind of jumped on them a little,” said Warrior head coach Craig Stephenson.

Getting the Southeastern District season started with a win is good no matter what. All six Warriors tallied fine rounds.

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But there was still a habit carried over from last fall that Stephenson is trying to break.

While certainly getting no help from Tuesday’s difficult heat and gusty winds along the course bordering the Nansemond River, the Warriors went from a five-over par team score on the front nine to a final team total of 28-over par.

“We kind of became content because we knew we were up big. We’ve got to work on finishing rounds and build on that through the season because this problem came back to bite us versus Great Bridge last year,” Stephenson said.

The Warriors are an experienced group. Seniors Travis Johnson and Shanice Mason have been in the Warrior lineup since their freshman years.

The next Warrior pairing, sophomores Griffin Genier and Bryce Strong, each have a year of experience.

Johnson is the Southeastern District’s defending champion. He won the district title with a three-under par 69 at Sleepy Hole last September. Johnson continued all the way to the VHSL State Tournament, finishing 10th at states with rounds of 70 and 74 at Nansemond River Golf Club.

Johnson and Strong were one-under par at the turn on Tuesday. Johnson finished as the medalist with a two-over par 74. Strong finished with a 78. Genier shot an 81 and Mason shot an 83 to complete the Warrior score.

Stephenson is confident the team score should improve from the opening match.

Strong improved a lot during his freshman season, peaking with a 76 in the district tournament, which proved to be a key score in giving the Warriors a team berth into the Eastern Region Tournament, where Nansemond River placed seventh as a team.

Mason has played in the State Girls Championship each of the last three years. Stephenson is sure she’ll usually help the team even more than she did on Tuesday.

Mason, who’s also a student at the Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk during the school year, attended a dance academy in Maine for most of the summer.

“The last couple weeks has been her summer. She just got back into playing again,” Stephenson said.

Senior Jacob Foster, who’s been in Stephenson’s top six for the last two seasons, and sophomore Chad Kozoyed, already a varsity soccer standout for the Warriors, were the fifth and sixth players for NR.

The Warriors were 8-2-1 in the regular season in 2010, with the tie coming against Western Branch.

Nansemond River meets Deep Creek at Nansemond River Golf Club on Thursday.