Catholic holds big lead heading into final round at state golf tourney
With one day of the high school state golf tournament in the books at the Oglebay Resort's Trent Jones Course in Wheeling, Kanawha Valley golfers have put themselves and their teams in position to win titles today.
In Class A, defending state champion Charleston Catholic built a sizeable lead by firing a team score of 236, topping Madonna, currently in second place, by 15 strokes. Buffalo sits in third with a 254, three strokes behind the Blue Dons.
"Our goal was to shoot between 235 and 240," Catholic coach Bill Gillispie said in a telephone interview. "We kind of thought if we played pretty decent that's about where we would be and the guys came through. We're definitely happy with it."
Fighting Irish sophomore Christian Casingal, the Class A individual champion a year ago, leads again this year after the first day. Casingal shot a 75, one stroke better than teammate Aaron Persily's 76. Buffalo's Cory Horshor sits in third with a first round score of 79.
It might seem like deja vu for Charleston Catholic. Last year's team, which featured three of the four golfers the Irish used Tuesday, built a comfortable lead on Madonna after the first day on its way to the school's fifth golf state championship since 1999.
"Last year with the same three guys we were up by 18 on Madonna," Gillispie said. "Being in the same situation last year that we are this year is going to give us a little bit of knowledge. We want to play the golf course the best we can."
The Irish's other two golfers also fared well Tuesday. Jordan Covelli shot an 85 and Jackson Ellis a 93, good enough to keep the team well in front. Gillispie said he was going to make a change with his roster today, however.
Allie Persily, younger sister of teammate Aaron Persily, will become the first female in school history to play golf at the state tournament when she tees off today as the Irish's No. 4 golfer.
Charleston Catholic and Buffalo are not the only Kanawha Valley teams in the hunt for titles entering today.
Poca leads Class AA after shooting 246 as a team. The Dots, led by individual tournament co-leader Travis Covert's 78, hold a three-stroke advantage over Roane County with Grafton (254), Fairmont Senior (257), Scott (260), Westside (278) and Lincoln (296) rounding out the field.
Roane County's Sydney Snodgrass and Bluefield's Evan Smith tied with Covert for the individual lead, but that could change on the tournament's second day. The top of the Class AA leader board is crowded with 10 golfers within five strokes of the three co-leaders.
Two-time defending Class AAA individual champion Thadd Obecny from Wheeling Park trails teammate Cole Hand, who shot a first-round 72, by a single stroke. Winfield's Chris Williams is tied for third place with Eric Wirth and Cale Wheeler, both from University, with a 74 while George Washington's Will Evans sits in a fifth-place tie with Cabell Midland's Jacob Beahrs at 75.
Williams said despite a solid score and only trailing the lead by two strokes, he feels like he could have played better golf in the first round.
"My short game around the greens and putting was off," he said. "I think I left four or five shots out there. I hit the ball really well but I made a couple of stupid shots. It's a positive that I didn't play my best and still shot a 74, so if I have a good day [today] I should be under par and have a chance to win."
University leads the team scoring in Class AAA with a 225. Wheeling Park, Class AAA champions each of the last two years and runner-up the two before that, shot a 229 and is in position to make another run at a championship today. Cabell Midland (235), George Washington (238), Washington (243), Huntington (248), Shady Spring (250) and Elkins (260) round out the Class AAA field after the first day.
Reach Tom Bragg at email@example.com.