Hall, ’Stangs take region titles, again

By JOE CANNON Assistant Sports Editor
Posted 9/26/17

CROSSVILLE — It may sound like a broken record, but Cleveland High’s Rheagan Hall and the Walker Valley boys team are returning to the TSSAA State Golf Championships.

“I’m excited …

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Hall, ’Stangs take region titles, again

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CROSSVILLE — It may sound like a broken record, but Cleveland High’s Rheagan Hall and the Walker Valley boys team are returning to the TSSAA State Golf Championships.

“I’m excited to get to go for the fourth time. Today gave me a lot of confidence going into the state,” proclaimed the two-time all-stater after winning the Region 3-Large individual title by 10 strokes Monday at the Bear Trace Course at Cumberland Mountain.

Overcoming a bad first hole, Hall was able to recover and shoot even par (72) to continue her season-long streak of winning low-medalist honors.

Led by senior Cade Puryear’s low-medalist effort with a 1-under-par 71, the Mustangs fired a 310 to improve their season record to 59-6 to take the boys’ team title by 10 shots as well, earning their third straight state tournament trip next week.

“It’s remarkable for us to win three years in a row,” declared veteran Walker Valley coach Bob Williams. “To be able to do it on this stage, under this pressure, on probably the toughest course (Bear Trace at Cumberland Mountain) we’ve played on all year is amazing.”

Along with the repeat region winners, Drew Linkous of Cleveland and Bradley Central’s Gage Brakebill earned their first TSSAA state bids, as individuals.

“Our county was well represented, taking seven of eight boys’ berths, plus Rheagan winning the girls,” praised Coach Williams.

After a runner-up finish at last week’s District 5-Large Tournament at the Cleveland Country Club, Bradley’s boys took third at the region event.

“Our boys have surprised and pleased me this year,” commented Bear coach Don Burke, who doesn’t have a senior in the starting lineup. “For us to finish ahead of perennial powers like Cookeville, Cumberland (County) and Cleveland, says a lot for these young guys. We weren’t too far out of second place”

Bradley shot a 328, putting them just eight strokes behind runner-up White County.

The TSSAA Large Class State Tournament will be held Oct. 2-3 at the WillowBrook course in Manchester.

Girls’ Region

“I started out really rough with a double-bogey on the first hole,” related Hall, who has played many tournaments on the Bear Trace course.

“I had to have a little talk with myself before the second hole, to refocus.”

The steady senior got those two strokes back when she rolled in an eagle putt on the par 4 just a few minutes later.

“I had an up and down day, with quite a few birdies, but just as many bogeys,” she stated.

“Being able to settle down and come back to shoot even (par), especially after last week (her highest score of the year with a 79 on her home course at CCC to win the district crown), made me feel good.”

“Rheagan started out with a double bogey and then went birdie, eagle,” related Cleveland coach Nick Cantrell.

“She is so good at putting a bad hole behind her. She has done that so many times.

“She's had a great season and making it to state once is an accomplishment, and she has done it four consecutive years. Her high school golf career is one of the best I've ever seen.”

After winning the program’s first district team championship a little over a week ago, the Lady Raiders finished third in Monday’s competition.

Sophomore Ellie Mills carded a 112 for a 184 team tally, putting her squad just three shots behind Sequoyah.

White County won the girls’ team crown with a 169.

Walker Valley was just a stroke behind the Lady Raiders for fourth place.

Senior Whitney Kincaid, who missed out on a state berth last season in a playoff with teammate Kesley Cassada, was two shots out of the final state bid this time around, with an 86.

Junior Lauren Roby shot a 98 to give the Lady Mustangs a 185.

Bradley freshman Lauren Baker posted the ninth-best score of the day, with a 91.

Cumberland County 14-year-old Kelsee Neely and Valeria Vargas, from Warren County, earned the other two individual state berths with an 82 and 85 respectively.

Boys’ Region

Getting consistent scores from his top four players all season, Coach Williams continues his streak of sending at least one Walker Valley player to the state in each of his 12 years with the program.

“These guys have done it all season and we didn’t make too many mistakes today,” he assessed.

“Cade (Puryear, who was the low-medalist at last week’s district tournament as well) was the first out of the gate. He was 2-under going to 17, then had a double (bogey), but came back to birdie 18 to finish under par.”

Sophomore Dalton Sutton, who was a state participant last season while playing for Silverdale Baptist Academy, was “even at the turn and shot 39 on that very tough back nine,” Williams explained.

“Dalton has been steady all year for us and has fit right in. He shot a 3-over 75 on a very tough course today.”

Senior Parker Gray, who has been a mainstay at the top of the Mustang scores this season, posted a 78.

“Parker was even going into No. 9, but hit into a hazard and had a double (bogey),” related Williams. He shot a 39 on the back as well.”

Senior Nicholas McCracken, who like Puryear and Gray has played in the last two state tournaments, rounded out the winning score with an 86.

After missing out on a state berth by a single stroke last September, Linkous took the second qualifying spot Monday with a 3-over 75.

“Drew has worked so hard this season and I was thrilled to see him go out and earn a spot in the state tournament,” proclaimed Coach Cantrell.

“He's not only been a great teammate all season, but a great individual player as well. That's rare to come across.

“Drew knew he would need to be in the mid-to-low 70s with only three individuals advancing,” the Raider mentor explained.

“He was 5-over with four (holes) to play and eagled the last par 5 and then finished strong.

“He never got overly frustrated, and kept making good shots. I was really proud of the way he played today and all season.”

Cleveland’s 338 team total included an 82 from junior Matt Marino, plus a 90 by senior Balee Miller and a 91 from sophomore Wade Samples.

Becoming the first Bear to make the state tournament in Coach Burke’s four seasons, Brakebill edged out a pair of golfers for the final individual spot.

“Gage has been our rock this season,” stated Coach Burke. “He’s been a leader on the board and the course.

“He had an eagle on No. 4 and turned at 1-over (37). He was at 37 on the back before he bogeyed the last two holes.”

Joining the lefty was junior Bryce Kauffman with an 81, classmate Tyler Ferguson with an 84 and freshman JT McKenzie’s 87.

“They (the Bears) gave an all-out effort today on a hard course,” proclaimed Coach Burke. “Our scores have been pretty consistent all year and they were again today, ranging from 76-88 (junior Alex Kyle).”

Cumberland County’s Zach Young earned second low-medalist honors and an individual state berth with an even par 72.

Region 3-Large

Championship

at Bear Trace-Cumberland Mtn.

BOYS

Team scores: Walker Valley 310; White County 320; Bradley Central 328; Cumberland County 330; Cookeville 331; Cleveland 338.

Individual scores

Walker Valley: Cade Puryear 71; Dalton Sutton 75; Parker Gray 78; Nicholas McCracken 86; Miles Thompson 89.

Bradley Central: Gage Brakebill 76*; Bryce Kauffman 81; Tyler Ferguson 84; JT McKenzie 87; Alex Kyle 88.

Cleveland: Drew Linkous 75*; Matt Marino 82; Balee Miller 90; Wade Samples 91; Dillon Linkous 100.

* State individual qualifiers along with Zach Young (72) of Cumberland County.

GIRLS

Team scores: White County 169; Sequoyah 181; Cleveland 184; Walker Valley 185; Cookeville 196; Soddy-Daisy 208.

Individual scores

Cleveland: Rheagan Hall 72*; Ellie Mills 112; Emma Crouch 120.

Walker Valley: Whitney Kincaid 87; Lauren Roby 98, Gracie Medley 103.

Bradley Central (playing as individuals: Lauren Baker 91; Cuppie Kyle 119; Adyn Yowarsky 131.

* State individual qualifiers along with Kelsee Neely (82) and Valeria Vargas 85.

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