NRHS golf undefeated so far

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jacob Nguyen, Rebecca Bangley, Corbin Morse and Griffen Saylor of the King’s Fork golf team played against Hickory on Tuesday.

By Titus Mohler

Golf season is over halfway through, and 2012 has begun to take definitive shape for Nansemond River, Lakeland and King’s Fork.

The defending Southeastern District champion Warriors are again faring the best out of the three schools, currently holding a 6-0 record. Despite the full win column, coach Craig Stephenson describes the year as a difficult one in which the schedule has helped.

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“It’s been a growing year,” he said. “We lost a lot from last year after winning the district title, and it’s been slow going to start the year. But the schedule has definitely set up well for us because as the district champion from the year before, they set the schedule up based on the previous year’s results. So, we still have our hardest two matches left to go.”

Those remaining matches will be against Great Bridge and Grassfield, both of which are on track to finish in the top three district spots with Nansemond River.

Stephenson has been presenting early qualification for regionals as a strong source of motivation for his team. The teams finishing in the top two spots for the district automatically qualify for the regional tourney. The team that comes in third will have to perform well at the district tourney to earn a spot.

“So, I’m trying to take that pressure off of the guys,” Stephenson said, “and getting them to understand that if we go ahead and take care of business now, we can worry more about focusing on getting ready for regionals than ‘Are we even going to make it there?’”

The two standouts for Stephenson have been juniors Griffin Genier and Bryce Strong. Genier was all-district last year, and Strong was a state qualifier.

Lakeland coach Michael Tucker and the team are going through a rebuilding year with a record on the opposite end of the spectrum from Nansemond River.

The 0-6 Cavaliers are hobbled by only having four players and a deficiency of experience on this year’s team.

Their No. 6 player from last year, Dalton Hoffman, has now become the No.-1 ranked player on the team, and Tucker affirmed that he has been the team’s standout.

The Cavs are coming off a three-win season with a team that featured more experienced players. Warding off discouragement and helping the players remain engaged have been important functions of Tucker’s job this time around.

“Granted, we don’t have the talent that we had last year, but the kids still enjoy it and I enjoy coaching, helping them out, having them learn things,” he said. “It’s just a building process as far as keeping the kids interested in the game, keep them wanting to play the game, teaching them more and more about the game and things of that nature.”

Deep Creek and Oscar Smith await on the regular season schedule.

King’s Fork’s season has been more middle-of-the-road in what Bulldogs coach Calvin Mitchell describes as a “building year.” The Bulldogs entered yesterday’s match against Hickory with a record of 2-4.

“We lost two seniors last year, so it’s trying to fill in that fifth and sixth spots,” Mitchell said at the start of the Hickory match. “Three of the matches we were down a player because our No. 4, (Jacob Nguyen), he was injured in an accident, so he’s coming back today.”

Mitchell also analyzed the season from a personnel angle.

“As far as the players are (concerned), we have three strong players coming back and we have three new players,” he said. “One good addition, our number one player, is a ninth-grader.”

He was referring to the impressive Chris Angelelli.

Goals that Mitchell has for the end of the season extend to both the team as a group and the individual players. If the team cannot make it into regionals, then he hopes at least one or two players will qualify to compete as individuals.

“And ever since the school has been open,” he said, “we’ve always had somebody in regionals, so we’re trying to maintain that little record there.”

The Bulldogs conclude the regular season against Indian River and Great Bridge.