The James River and Lord Botetourt golfers are both going to state tournaments, and they qualified in eerily similar circumstances. Both teams tied for second in their regional tournaments, then won a four-player playoff to advance to the state.
River played in the Region 2C tournament at the Olde Mill course in Carroll County last week. Three Rivers District champion Floyd County was the big favorite in the 10-team field and the Buffaloes didn’t disappoint with a first place score of 321.
Two teams qualify for the state, and River was battling defending state champion Patrick County and Three Rivers District foes Radford and Glenvar coming down the stretch. When all the scores were in River and Patrick finished in a dead heat at 350, while Radford was one stroke back at 351 and Glenvar was just four back at 354.
“As the scores started coming in from the top teams, I knew we could be in contention to make the second spot,” said River coach Donna Cox. “We just needed to correct a few things on the back nine and to finish strong. My guys never gave up, each had to bounce back from some bad breaks and poor choices to finish tied with Patrick.”
Ryan Steger led the Knights with an 83, followed by Sam Bell at 86. Also shooting scores that counted were Haden Parker at 90 and Dylan Hicks at 91.
With a spot in the state tournament on the line, River went into a four-man aggregate team, sudden death playoff against Patrick County to secure the spot. The ones and twos played first on hole number one with Steger and Hicks representing James River. Ryan bogeyed after going out of bounds on his second shot, while Dylan parred the hole. Then Bell and Parker played next and when Patrick’s number four man shot a nine on the hole, River punched the ticket to the state Class 2C tournament.
Lord Botetourt played in the Region 3D tournament at the very same time at Draper Valley in Pulaski County, and under similar circumstances. Like River, the Cavaliers needed to finish first or second to make the state tournament and, like River, finished in a dead heat for second.
Abingdon won the 11-team regional with a low score of 304 and had the medalist in Grace Addison, who shot 70. Lord Botetourt and Cave Spring tied for second with LB’s scores coming from Blue Ridge District champ Ashton Harper at 74, Xavier Shelton with 80, Kasey Davis with 82 and Cadyn Bowles with an 86.
Like with River, the two teams played a four-man aggregate team, sudden death playoff. Harper and Shelton played the par five number one hole first and Harper birdied the hole and Shelton parred it. In the second four-some, Davis had a par and Bowles had a birdie for a combined four-man score of 20. Cave Spring’s top four shot 22, giving LB the second spot from Region 3D in the state tournament.
“Our kids played really well,” said coach Todd Smith. “We lost a lot from last year and at the beginning of the season I didn’t know if it was possible to make the state.”
The Class 3 state tournament will be Stonehenge Golf & Country Club in Richmond next Tuesday, October 11. Former Cavalier Jed Rasnick lives in Richmond and has played the course and he’ll give the team some tips when they play a practice round Monday. Harper, who has signed to play at Virginia Tech next year, is one of the favorites to win the individual crown.
“If he plays his game, he has a good chance,” said Smith.
The Class 2 state tournament will be next Monday and the James River players will be quite familiar with the course. It will be played at Olde Mill, the same course the Knights played on in their regional tournament.