On a course that wanted to give no one any favors Tuesday, the George Washington High golf team coaxed just enough goodwill out of it to capture another Mountain State Athletic Conference title.
The only two golfers at Berry Hills Country Club on Tuesday who shot below 80 both were Patriots, and GW was able to win its sixth conference title in the last eight seasons.
Led by tournament medalist and MSAC Player of the Year Joseph Kalaskey’s even-par 70, the Patriots bested second-place Cabell Midland by 17 shots. Hurricane and Huntington finished tied for third, but the Redskins earned the tiebreaker by having their fifth golfer score lower than the Highlanders’.
While the Patriots were the lowest of the higher scores, that wasn’t a ton of consolation to George Washington coach B.J. Calabrese. He wants to defend the Patriots’ Class AAA state title at Speidel Golf Course in Wheeling. Proper course management is as important there as it is at Berry Hills, so there will be some good lessons learned from the win.
“Before we leave today, I’m sure our kids will give me a hard time because they see that we won, but one of our discussions will be that we can’t do this,” he said. “We know we can’t do this.”
Berry Hills is a tough course to begin with, Calabrese said. If the ball sails right, it almost always lands into trouble. But the dry conditions in Charleston the last couple of weeks made the course play even faster. Judging distance became more difficult and that led to overshooting some of the holes.
“You can tell by the scores from [Tuesday],” Calabrese said. “That’s very reflective of that. Kids who normally score in the mid-70s are now scoring in the mid-80s. That’s not normal for them. You really have to club down in that case.”
As Calabrese walked the course, he watched as both his golfers and golfers from other teams suffered from the extra bounce the harder, drier fairways and greens gave their shots. That extra 15 feet or so of distance was what caused problems.
Huntington coach Travis Austin saw the course giving all the golfers issues, but reiterated that it was playing tough for everyone, not just his team.
“My guys struggled with the greens and I saw big numbers,” Austin said. “I’d have a kid who would play four or five holes at par, then take a triple or a quadruple [bogey] just where they got in the junk and couldn’t get out.”
The golfer who came closest to taming it, defending Class AAA medalist Kalaskey, was even a little disappointed in his final score. He was hoping to walk off the course under par, but even par still got the job done. He was 2 under on the front nine Tuesday but recorded four bogeys on top of two more birdies on the back nine.
“I was making putts [on the front nine] and I didn’t make any on the back nine,” he said. “I didn’t play bad. I just missed opportunities. I had a short one on 10, a short one on 12 and a short one on 14 and just missed them.
“The way I hit it in relation to the score, it was a good score,” Kalaskey added. “I just wished I putted a little better to play a little better.”
The only other golfer to shoot below 80 was GW’s Anderson Goldman, who carded a 75. The next closest score was an 81 from Cabell Midland’s Cameron Jarvis.