By Rusty Udy
For The Register-Herald
The Shady Spring Tigers hit the links Tuesday for the Class AAA Region 3 golf championship knowing a tough task lay ahead.
The competition was stiff with the likes of George Washington, Princeton and Greenbrier East among the teams in their path toward a trip to next week’s state golf tournament in Wheeling.
What’s more, George Washington was playing on its home course, and this would be the first competitive round for the Tigers on the Berry Hills Country Club course.
While the mountain seemed high, the Tigers used their best asset — experience — to capture second place with a team score of 244 and advance to their second consecutive state tournament appearance in only their second year as a Class AAA school.
Princeton won the region title with a score of 239.
Oak Hill’s Craig Buchanan shot a 76 and will go to Wheeling as an individual.
The top two teams in each region, along with the the top two individual scorers of the remaining teams, qualify for the state tournament.
The score of 244 was just five shots behind first-place Princeton, one shot ahead of Greenbrier East and four shots ahead of home-standing George Washington.
“Going in we figured they (George Washington) were the team to beat, but my guys played consistent and steady,” Shady coach Brad Bostic said.
The senior foursome was led by Drew Green’s team-low score of 80 on the par-72 course. He was followed closely by Landon Perry (81), Ryan Albaugh (83) and Dakota McComas (86).
“I am really proud of my guys. It was a good day for sure,” Bostic said. “We haven’t played too many 18-hole matches, but we were confident. Nervous, but confident we could do well today.”
Coming through under pressure in difficult situations on the links is nothing new to this group. Perry and Albaugh will be making their fourth state tournament appearance, while Green has made the trip three times. McComas will be in Wheeling for the second time.
“We knew it would be tough to qualify today. This region has so many good golfers. We were focused as a team and as individuals today,” said Bostic.
Not only was the competition tough, but the experienced Tigers faced the toughest task of seeing the Berry Hills course for the first time in competition.
“This was our first time on this course,” Bostic said. “We had a practice round Saturday and worked on some different scenarios and recovery shots to try and be prepared for today.”
Shady Spring has now qualified for six straight trips to Wheeling, going back to the Class AA trips prior to moving up to Class AAA.
When the Tiger foursome arrives in Wheeling, Bostic feels confident about his veteran bunch.
“Honestly, I don’t feel we will see any tougher competition in Wheeling than we faced in this regional,” he said. “We have been there and come close to winning. We know the ups and downs you will face in a round of golf, the delays, the weather issues. We have seen it all.”
Princeton rode a strong performance from Tyler Hillyer, who shot a 74 to finish as the tournament’s medalist. Will Hickman shot an 82, Jared Porter an 83 and Andrew Wilson a 95.
Four players per team compete with the highest score thrown out.
Hillyer will play in the state tournament for the first time and became the first Princeton player since J.J. McPherson in 2010 to qualify. McPherson earned all-state three years ago, shooting a 159 to finish fourth.
“Even with the great conditions, every shot is a battle,” Hillyer said. “You can’t just walk up and try to smack it down the fairway. There’s trouble everywhere. We all played well.”
Hillyer had seven bogeys and three birdies. Most importantly, he had no double bogeys.
“I didn’t make many mistakes,” Hillyer said. “I put the driver away a few times, kept it in the bag, just played smart.”
The quest for the state golf championship will be begin Tuesday, Oct. 8, on the Speidel Golf Course at Oglebay Park in Wheeling.
— The Charleston Daily Mail contributed to this story.
Class AAA Region 3 championships
At Berry Hills Country Club
Par 70, 6,345 yards
1. Princeton 239 (Tyler Hillyer 74, Will Hickman 82, Jared Porter 83, Andrew Wilson 95)
2. Shady Spring 244 (Drew Green 80, Landon Perry 81, Ryan Albaugh 83, Dakota McComas 86)
3. Greenbrier East 245 (Walker Dent 80, Owen Wood 82, Madison Erskine 83, Griffin King 97)
4. George Washington 248 (Kyle Bird 76, Drew Call 85, Harry Basile 87, Matt Nelson 90)
5. Oak Hill 250 (Craig Buchanan 76, Michael Nibert 86, Devon Elder 88, David Thompson 93)
6. Woodrow Wilson 270 (Hunter Halstead 85, Kase Poling 88, Kenny Maiolo 97, Thomas Kozar 118)
7. South Charleston 275 (Jared Butler 87, Mitchell Foster 92, Josh Myers 96, Andrew Clark 99,)
8. Ripley 298 (Justin McKown 92, Logan Reynolds 98, Josh Sinclair 108, Derek Hill 110)
9. Capital 321 (Brandon Thomas 98, Austin Hupp 104, Parker Broughton 119, Christian Rowe 122)
10. Riverside 328 (Ethan Morris 93, Tyler Rodgers 108, Andrew Rodgers 127, Cameron Stamper 157)
Team qualifiers: Princeton, Shady Spring.
Individual qualifiers: Kyle Bird, George Washington; Craig Buchanan, Oak Hill.