Warriors finish third in region
Published 9:39 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2011
PORTSMOUTH — Nansemond River’s golf team put together two of its best team scores of the season, a season that was already the best in program history, in the Eastern Region Tournament Monday and Tuesday at Bide-A-Wee Golf Course.
The Warriors had five golfers shoot in the 70s in the opening round, including a 76 by senior Jacob Foster, the No. 5 golfer in the Warrior order. A 303 total put Nansemond River into second place, with the top two teams at the end of Tuesday’s second round earning state tournament berths.
First Colonial edged the Warriors by five strokes on Tuesday to claim the second spot into the VHSL Group AAA State Tournament along with regional champion Kellam. The Knights won the crown by 14 shots, with team rounds of 295 (seven-over par) and 297.
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“You can’t take anything away from this team. They had a phenomenal season,” said Nansemond River coach Craig Stephenson.
“If you shoot 609 and lose, so be it. That just means you lost to a team that played a little better than you did,” Stephenson said.
The Warriors won their first Southeastern District championship, season or tournament, with a 9-0 record through the district matches this season. The depth that made the perfect record possible put NR in good position through the first round.
NR’s top golfer, senior Travis Johnson, was actually fourth-best in the first round. Bryce Strong led NR with a two-over par 74. Shanice Mason and Foster shot 76s. Johnson shot a 77.
“It was my driver and my putting,” Strong said.
“He hit his driver amazing. Every time I saw him hit a tee shot, it was perfect,” Stephenson said.
With a 77 on Tuesday, Strong finished in a tie for fifth individually and made the state tournament.
Strong had two shots to spare for the cut line for states. He drove the green and made birdie on the par-four No. 15, then found trouble in a bunker and made a double-bogey on the par-five No. 17.
“He kept his composure and we’ve been working on that all year,” Stephenson said.
“Bryce would have a bad hole and tend to lose his composure. For these two days though, that didn’t happen and he showed a lot of maturity,” Stephenson said.
“I’m surprised and happy,” Strong said about his first season making the state tournament.
Johnson carded an even-par 72 on Tuesday. He knew exactly where four of the shots he cut out came from.
On Monday, Johnson made a double-bogey on No. 5, one of the longest par fives in the area, measuring around 600 yards depending on the tee in use, and a triple-bogey on No. 8, likely Bide-A-Wee’s toughest par four.
With his second try at those two holes, Johnson made par on No. 5 and bogey on No. 8.
“It was about keeping it in play,” Johnson said.
“Travis just did what he usually does for us,” Stephenson said. “He’s always a second-day player. The more pressure there is, the better he responds for whatever reason.”
Johnson’s two-day total of five-over par gave him fourth place individually and a state tournament spot.
To go along with the team accomplishments for the season, Strong and Johnson make the first time two Warriors reached the state tournament in a season.
Lakeland’s Ryan Sigler, playing as an individual qualifier, shot 77 and 82 to finish six shots off the cut for states. King’s Fork’s Andrew Womack shot 89 and 99.
Kellam’s Alex Lloyd and Bryce Cope were co-champions with four-under par totals of 140. Cope shot 67 and Lloyd shot 68 on Monday.
The VHSL Group AAA State Tournament is set for Monday and Tuesday at Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton.
Eastern Region Golf Tournament
Monday-Tuesday; Bide-A-Wee Golf Course, Portsmouth
Top team scores
Mon. Tues. Total
1. Kellam 295 297 592
2. First Colonial305 301 606
3. Nansemond R. 303 306 609
4. Cox 305 321 626
5. Grassfield 319 308 627
Bryce Strong 74
Shanice Mason 76
Jacob Foster 76
Travis Johnson 77
Travis Johnson 72
Griffin Genier 76
Bryce Strong 77
Shanice Mason 81