There has been sentiment over the last couple of seasons to have the West Virginia high school golf championships relocated. Some argue that Wheeling's Speidel Course at Oglebay Resort is too difficult to decide a high school championship.
Zan Hill, for one, has nothing but fond memories of the course.
The Woodrow Wilson senior capped off his career with a Class AAA state championship last week, closing with a second-round 4-over 75. That likely would be the highlight of his high school golf days, but don't forget that one year ago his final round was highlighted by a hole-in-one on Speidel's par-3 No. 7.
"I know a lot of people would like to see (the tournament) moved, but the golf course has been good to me," Hill said. "I can't complain."
"The course is definitely a beast. I felt like the greens were a lot faster than they were the last time I was up there (as a junior). You have to hit quality golf shots or you'll go out of bounds on most of the holes you play, and it's not really short either. You definitely have to have your 'A' game to play."
That's what Hill did, and he has been chosen as The Register-Herald Prep Athlete of the Week.
Winning the state championship was easily a dream ending for Hill. He was confident in his team as a whole, after winning the Region 3 championship for the first time in 26 years, and he was just as confident in his teammates' chances of finding individual success.
"Honestly, I was a little nervous going into, I guess, my last high school round," said Hill, who wants to play at an in-state college. "But I knew as a team we had the capability to win, and individually as well. I feel like you have to be very patient at that golf course, be grinding all the time and don't let big numbers creep up on you."
He started the day in a tie for second with Oak Hill's Jack Hayes at 8-over. They trailed Cabell Midland's Cameron Jarvis by one stroke.
"I knew pars were good on that course," Hill said. "If you look at the first round, 7-over was leading the golf tournament. Pars were good, and stay away from big numbers really."
That's what he largely did, and his bogey putt on No. 18 was just enough to hold off Jarvis for a one-stroke victory.
Playing against — and alongside — top competition no doubt prepared Hill for his big moment. Hayes finished third, two strokes behind Hill, and teammate Jonah Willson finished just short of all-tournament honors.
In Class AA, Shady Spring's Tanner Vest was second and Westside's Tanner Walls third. Ben Marsh of Nicholas County finished 10th.
"He's dedicated to the game. He gets out there and works on it," Woodrow coach Butch Freeman said. "Hits a lot of balls and plays as often as possible. He really loves the game, so that makes him put the time in. That's what you've got to do in golf to be good."
"I felt like I had a good summer," Hill said. "I made my first (West Virginia) Amateur and my first (West Virginia) Open. High school golf was a little streaky. It started well, but I cooled off a little bit. I guess I got it back at the right time."
The winner of the online poll was the Shady Spring football team's defense, which received 57.6 percent of the vote.
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