By Cam Huffman
Greenbrier West had done about everything possible in high school golf going into Monday’s Class A Region 3 tournament at the Lewisburg Elks Country Club — at least during the regular season.
The Cavaliers had gone 12-2 in 14 matches and topped 31 of 34 opponents during that stretch. Austin Ransom had won multiple individual titles, and the Cavaliers were considered to be one of the top Class A golf teams in the entire state.
None of that made any difference Monday, though. The Cavs’ chances of advancing to the state tournament, which will be held Oct. 8-9 at the Speidel Golf Course at Oglebay Park in Wheeling, all came down to one round.
West was more than up to the task.
The Cavaliers fired a team total of 228, placing four individuals in the top six, to run away with the region championship and punch their ticket to Wheeling. Their 228 was 25 shots better than second-place Richwood. The defending region champion Lumberjacks posted a 253 to also earn a spot in the eight-team state championship field.
“With golf, they all strive for one thing and that’s to go to states,” said Richwood head coach David Hicks, whose team finished in sixth place in Class A in 2012. “I lost two seniors (from last year’s team). They had a lot of experience behind them, but this is still a young team. I have two juniors and two sophomores, so it would usually be a rebuilding year. But they came through for me. They’re dedicated to the game of golf, and they want to play.”
Hicks said he’s setting a goal of finishing sixth or better again this year, a big accomplishment for such a young squad.
Greenbrier West will enter with much bigger dreams.
“We thought we might see Charleston Catholic early in the year at Pipestem, but they didn’t make it up,” said West head coach Joey Fitzwater, assessing his team’s chances of taking home the big prize. “They’re always tough, and there are a few other teams that are always there. We’ll get up there and see what happens.”
Fitzwater certainly believes his team will be in the mix. Ransom, the Cavs’ top player, is back from a broken toe, and the senior is working his way back into form. He’s also a standout in the classroom, where he has a 3.97 GPA and scored a 29 on the math portion of his ACT.
But the team’s strength is its depth. Sophomore Justin Estep, the great nephew of Greenbrier West coaching legend John Estep, topped the entire field at Monday’s regional with a 74. Junior Chandler Fitzwater, the coach’s son, was close behind with a 76, the second-best score in the field, and Ransom’s 78 was good enough for third. Even the team’s highest score, senior Jared Jennings’ 81, was good enough for sixth overall.
“We had a good season,” said Fitzwater. “By going to the state tournament (last fall), they got experience. We had several kids coming back, and they dedicated their whole summers to playing. Down on little Greenbrier Hills Golf Club in Rainelle, Terry McClung runs it, they were out there playing constantly.
“I’ve had these kids through middle school and high school, and I really haven’t done a lot. We had one of the assistant pros at The Greenbrier Sporting Club come one day and go over rules, regulations, grip and a couple of simple stuff. But the kids took it upon themselves to perform, and they did.”
No performance, though, was any more impressive than Monday’s under a new level of pressure.
“No matter what you did, you throw the records out and you have to perform,” said Fitzwater. “We’ve played here in middle school and high school. I’m not saying it’s their home course, but our kids know the course. They used their heads and played smart, and the score shows that.”
Richwood’s low scores came from Brandon Johnson and Mason Mullins, who tied for the team best with 80s. That was good enough for a tie for fourth overall. Tyler Davis and Charles Baughman each shot 93 to round out the Lumberjacks’ scoring.
Man High School’s Baley Beckwith and Sherman’s Trenton Carutuers also earned spots in the state tournament as the top two individuals who didn’t qualify with their teams. Both golfers shot 83s during Monday’s round. Carutuers competed alone with no teammates in the field.
Greenbrier West will travel to Wheeling Sunday for a practice round before tournament play begins a week from today.
— E-mail: chuffman@
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Greenbrier West 228
Tug Valley 332
Individual top 10
Justin Estep (GW) 74
Chandler Fitzwater (GW) 76
Austin Ransom (GW) 78
Brandon Johnson (RW) 80
Mason Mullins (RW) 80
Jared Jennings (GW) 81
Baley Beckwith (M) 83
Trenten Carutuers (S) 83
John McCoy (M) 87
Jon Collins (M) 90
TJ Williamson (M) 90
Westside wins Class AA Region 3 championship
Westside’s 18-hole total of 241 was one stroke better than rival Wyoming East and good enough to the Class AA Region 3 championship Monday at Grandview Country Club.
Both teams qualify for the state tournament, set for Oct. 8-9 on the Speidel Course at Oglebay Park in Wheeling.
Drew Bragg (79), Katelyn Sanders (80) and Corey Bowles (82) led the Renegades. Brett Laxton (1-under par 71), Dakota Hood (82) and Kirby Campbell (89) paced the Warriors.
Ike Judy from James Monroe fired the low round of the day with a 3-under par 69 to capture an individual spot in next week’s tournament, as did T.J. Stacy of River View with an 83.
Class AA Region 3 Tournament
at Grandview Country Club
Westside 241, Wyoming East 242, James Monroe 247, Summers County 272, Liberty 280, Bluefield 287, River View 295, PikeView 297, Independence 333, Mount View (no team scores)
W: Drew Bragg 79, Kaitlyn Sanders 80, Corey Bowles 82
WE: Brett Laxton 71, Dakota Hood 82, Kirby Campbell 89
JM: Ike Judy 69, Ethan Spencer 84, Eli Judy 94
SC: Ashton Garten 85, Sean Mann 88, Christian Harvey 99
L: Seth Prince 89, Dylan Dickens 95, Garrett Allen 96
B: Joel Carlos 89, Cody Goins 95, Patrick Hutchison 103
RV: T.J. Stacy 83, Taylor DeHaven 88, Chase Hatfield 124
PV: Ben Boggess 90, Carter Shrewsbury 96, Abby Hammer 111
I: Logan Smith 103, Jacob Saunders 109, Logan Kelly 121
MV: Austin Johnson 118
State Qualifiers: (Team) Westside 241, Wyoming East 242. (Individual) Ike Judy 69 (JM), T.J. Stacy 83 (RV)
Medalists: Ike Judy (JM) 69, Brett Laxton (WE) 71, Drew Bragg (W) 79, Kaitlyn Sanders (W) 80, Dakota Hood 82 (WE), Corey Bowles (W) 82.
Next: State tournament Oct. 8-9 on the Speidel Golf Course at Oglebay Park in Wheeling