Golfers ready for tourney

Published 9:14 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The golf regular season has come to a close for King’s Fork, Lakeland, and Nansemond River, and they now ready themselves for the district tourney starting on Monday at Sleepy Hole Golf Course.

Nansemond River assumed second place in the district with an 8-1 record, their only loss coming to undefeated Grassfield by six points. The top two teams in the district are guaranteed qualifiers for the regional tourney.

It was a surprising year for the Warriors after having lost many of their key contributors from last year to graduation. Coach Craig Stephenson admitted as much in his take on the season.

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“I expected us to be competing probably for the third regional spot from the district, but to finish 8-1 and then to only lose to Grassfield the other day by six and have a chance at the district title the other day was definitely better than anybody would have been able to tell me.”

The Warriors are led by Griffin Genier, who finished with a 74 scoring average and will likely get all-district honors.

Stephenson figures that consistency and motivation will be the key challenges for the Warriors in the two-day district tourney.

“We’re already in regionals, so will they take the district tournament seriously?” Stephenson said. “Hopefully, that’s what I’m hoping, but it’s their mental state and whether they will or not.”

The KF Bulldogs finished the season with a 3-6 record, seventh place in the district, but coach Calvin Mitchell was pleased with the season because all of his kids consistently improved.

“My beginners have been getting better each match they play in, and my veteran players have also been getting better scores,” he said.

Three teams go to the regionals, and seven individual players can qualify as well. The top two teams at the end of the regular season have qualified for regionals, so districts will mean a battle for that third spot.

“Hickory, Great Bridge, Western Branch — they’ve been scoring a little bit better than we have been all year, so it’ll be a tough fight to get close enough to get that third place spot from them,” Mitchell said. “So, our main focus is going to be to try and get as many people into regionals as possible, and I think we have a possibility of getting two to three players in.”

Chris Angelelli has medaled in seven of the Bulldog’s nine matches, and Griffen Saylor medaled in the other two. Mitchell hopes both of them will qualify individually, as well as possibly Will Crow.

Lakeland was very short-handed this year, featuring a team of only four players. They technically finished the regular season with record of 0-6 because they only had three players up to competition level, which is not enough to qualify for team events.

“So, basically, everybody was playing for individual stroke play,” Cavaliers coach Michael Tucker said.

Despite the difficult year, Tucker still saw fruit from his and his players’ labors.

“Starting from the beginning of the year, with what I had, to the end of the year, all four of the kids actually made a big improvement on swing changes,” he said. “Scores (have) come down about five strokes a person from the beginning of the year. So, (they’re) definitely getting better.”

The Cavaliers team is led by Dalton Hoffman, and also includes Caleb Thomas, Blake Harris and Jacob Diggs.

“Districts is a whole different ballgame. They’re going to be playing with some better golfers out there, and I think it’ll be a good experience for them as far as real tournament.”

The Southeastern District golf tournament begins at 9 a.m. on Monday and Tuesday at the Sleepy Hole Golf Course.