CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Princeton experienced exhilaration Tuesday while George Washington was left wondering where it all went wrong at the Class AAA Region 3 high school golf tournament.Junior Tyler Hillyer shot the low round to earn medalist honors with a 4-over-par 74 in leading the Tigers to the regional championship by five strokes on the par-70 Berry Hills Country Club Course.Princeton totaled a combined score of 239 while Shady Spring finished runner-up at 244. Both teams earned a trip to the state tournament, which will take place Oct. 8-9 on the Speidel Golf Course at Oglebay Park in Wheeling.GW failed to qualify for states, finishing fourth with a 248, four strokes out of the final qualifying spot. Greenbrier East (245) was third, failing by one stroke to move on. The top two teams and the top two individuals not on a qualifying squad advance to states.
There was a silver lining, though, for GW as Kyle Bird tied for second with a 6-over 76 and advanced to the state tournament as an individual qualifier. Oak Hill senior Craig Buchanan also carded a 76 and punched a ticket to Wheeling."He's worked hard at it,'' GW coach B.J. Calabrese said of Bird. "You can tell the last two weeks his focus has been real good. He's spending time out on the range, which is what it takes. He's getting in some holes, but he's working on his game.''After Bird, GW's Drew Call (85), Harry Basile (87) and Matt Nelson (90) posted scores that were just too high to overcome."It's been really this kind of a season,'' said Calabrese, who guided the Patriots to a tie for third in the 2011 state tournament. "We've been up and down, up and down."Really, during the course of the season we've been up and down as individuals and not as a team. Extremely disappointing on your home course. I thought as time went on we were a little more focused and playing a little better.''
Princeton just missed qualifying for states during Hillyer's freshman season, finishing third, which made Tuesday's title even sweeter."It's fun,'' Hillyer said. "We're all best friends and we play golf all the time. Our coach Jimmy Jones is great. He keeps us in line. We're a veteran team. We knew to come up here and do it.''Princeton senior William Hickman (82) tied for seventh while senior Jared Porter (83) tied for ninth. Tigers senior Andrew Wilson turned in a 95."It's tough even though it was great conditions,'' Hillyer said of the rolling Berry Hills course, which played at 5,935 yards. "Every shot's a battle. You have to think about everything."You can't just walk up and try to smack it down the fairway. There's trouble everywhere. I put the driver away a couple of times and kept it in the bag. Just played smart. It's a tough course and we all played well.''The Class AAA tournament is up for grabs this year with defending state champion University failing to advance out of Region 1 and Thadd Obecny, the individual titlist in 2010-11, isn't playing for Wheeling Park after helping the Patriots to back-to-back championships in 2010-11 and a runner-up showing last year.
"We're ready to go up there and make our claim,'' said Hillyer. "It'd be nice to bring home a state championship. Nobody has really heard of Princeton golf the past few years.''Seniors Drew Green (80), Landon Perry (81), Ryan Albaugh (83) and Dakota McComas (86) paced Shady Spring's second-place finish. South Charleston (275) took seventh, Capital (321) was ninth and Riverside (328) was 10th.Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.