After good practice rounds Sunday and Monday, Walker Valley’s Katie Bishop, along with Chase Montgomery of Bradley Central, took to the WillowBrook Course today in search of individual state titles.
Meanwhile, the Wildcat golf squads made school history by both winning the District 5 A-AA championships in the same year, outdistancing the field Monday at the Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.
“This is a great day for Polk County golf,” proclaimed head coach Jason Adams. “The kids have worked hard in the offseason and during the season. It paid off today. We’ve never had both teams win the district in the same year — until now.”
Polk won the boys crown with a 319 total, while McMinn Central shot a 327. Sequoyah was right behind with a 328 for third.
The Lady Wildcats had a closer match, posting a 170 for a three-stroke victory over Boyd-Buchanan (173), while Sequoyah took third with a 193.
The victory propels the Wildcat teams into the Region 3 A-AA Tournament Monday at Valleybrook Golf and Country Club in Hixson.
“This is great to win these (district) titles, but next Monday is when it really counts,” coach Adams commented in reference to only one team from each region advancing to the state tournament.
“Our girls only won by three strokes. Boyd was favored coming into today and probably will be favored again in the region. The other district doesn’t have any girls teams so it will just be us, Boyd and Sequoyah.”
“Our boys played great but McMinn Central and Sequoyah weren’t far behind, plus East Hamilton and Hixson are really good teams coming from the other district,” the ’Cat coach added.
East Hamilton won the District 6 A-AA title for the third straight year with a 327 on the Moccasin Bend course, with Hixson five strokes behind. CSAS is the third team advancing to the region but were 80 strokes behind the Hurricanes on Monday.
After going 12-4 during the regular season, the Wildcats claimed the boys 5 A-AA title behind a trio of 6-over-par 78s from seniors Evan Ball and Cameron Bean, plus sophomore Michael Rongey.
“We had three of the top five scores. I had to take my three guys out for a playoff to determine the medalist honors,” explained Adams.
Ball won the playoff to earn the third-low medal, with Rongey taking fourth and Bean fifth. Senior Jake Burrows rounded out the Polk score with an 85.
“Evan was 5-over after the first five holes (of regulation) and then came back to shoot just 1-over on the final 13 holes,” praised Adams. “Rongey had his best round of the year. Bean has been steady for us in the high 70s and low 80s all year. Jake (Burrows) has also been consistent and shot about what he normally shoots.”
McMinn Central’s Paul Houk won low-medalist honors Monday with a 1-over 73, while Ben Brackett of Sequoyah was the runner-up with a 76.
In the girls’ action, Polk County claimed the title with senior Lydia Triplett earning low-medalist honors with a 7-over 79 and Lauren Passmore firing a career-best 91, earning the fifth-low medalist honor.
“Both girls played amazing,” declared Adams. “Lydia left a couple of strokes out there but really shot well overall and won low-medalist by four strokes over the Boyd girl (Madison Balthrop, who shot an 83).”
“Lauren bought a new driver a couple of weeks ago. She’s added about 25 yards to her tee shot, meaning she’s not having to use her long irons as much to try to hit the green, plus she’s more consistent in hitting the fairway,” the coach related. “She really came up big for us today.”
“Both our teams finished third in the district last year, but we didn’t lose anybody to graduation,” Adams commented. “I can really see a drastic improvement in our play since last year. We also played in more 18-hole tournaments this season to help the kids be better prepared for the district and region.”
Over in Manchester, both Bishop and Montgomery were happy with their practice rounds.
“I feel good. I feel confident. I’m ready to get it started,” declared Bishop, who is playing in her second straight TSSAA championship event. Her and current Middle Tennessee State golfer Avery George combined for a runner-up team finish at last year’s state tournament.
“I feel like I can compete with anybody here. I don’t know any of the girls I’m playing with (Tuesday), but I’ve heard of them by reputation,” expressed the Lady Mustang junior, who finished in 11th place individually last fall.
It is Montgomery’s first state tournament and he was a little nervous to begin with.
“It’s a lot different than when we came over here for the regular season tournament. It took me a couple of holes to get the butterflies out during my practice rounds but I’m OK now and feeling good about it,” the Bradley junior stated.
“I think seeing all the TSSAA banners and the signs everywhere took him by surprise,” related Bear head coach Jim Kibler. “He got in some good practice and was able to do some work around the greens to get familiar with them.”
“It’s been a couple of beautiful days for the practice rounds,” explained Walker Valley coach Bob Williams. “The kids got 15 minutes per hole and were able to work on some things to help them get ready.”
The opening 18 holes got under way this morning, while the final 18 will wrap up the event tomorrow.