After claiming its first state golf championship since 1989 a year ago, George Washington has quickly had to adapt to being the hunted rather than the hunter.
So far early this season, it’s worked out for the Patriots. But a less-than-comfortable final margin on Friday was a subtle reminder of how much golf can change from a day-to-day basis.
After winning by 19 shots at Oglebay Resort on Thursday, the Patriots were just good enough to edge Hurricane by three shots at the Capital City High School Invitational Friday at Edgewood Country Club.
Those two events, as well as the season opener held at Bel Meadow on Tuesday, are part of the Calloway Junior Tour High School Series that opens the prep golf season. The four-event tour will conclude Monday at Parkersburg Country Club and gives teams and players from around the state a good early look at what the season could shape up to be.
Having now swept the first three events, GW has solidified itself as the overwhelming favorite in Class AAA and it’s a role the team is settling into.
“It’s a completely different mindset,” coach B.J. Calabrese said. “Last year we went into it and nobody gave us much of a chance of winning the state tournament.
“There you went from the hunter to the hunted and it’s a completely different mindset and you’ve got to be able to deal with that pressure. So far we’re 3 for 3 on tournaments.”
Joseph Kalaskey, last year’s medalist at the state tournament in Wheeling, would seem to have the top spot in GW’s order locked up. With the Patriots shooting a combined 15-over-par 228 on Friday (the top three of four scores counted toward team totals), Kalaskey’s 2-over 73 was backed by a 77 from Colt Gillispie and a 78 from Anderson Goldman. Those two joined Kalaskey as part of GW’s foursome in the state tournament a year ago, but if there’s one thing the Patriots have that other teams don’t, its depth.
GW fielded four teams in the event on Friday with Cabell Midland the only other school to field more than two. The Patriots’ “B” team has shown well this week too, finishing third, fourth and sixth, respectively, in the three events.
In those events, Calabrese has shuffled around the order of his team as he tries to find the best combination. For the players, the Patriots biggest competition could be against one another.
“We are extremely deep, we’re even deeper than I anticipated,” Calabrese said. “Right now I’ve got nine or 10 kids competing for four or five spots. It’s a problem, but it’s a great problem to have. I’ve told them, ‘You’ve got to play your way into the top four, you’ve got to play your way into the top eight and we’ll see what happens from there.’”
Meanwhile, Kalaskey continues to grow into his own as one of the state’s best players. His 73 on Friday was good enough for second behind Shady Spring’s Todd Duncan, who fired a 2-under 69 to win the individual race.
Still, Kalaskey has finished in the top five in all three events thus far after steaming through last high school season and into the summer. He had nice showings at both the West Virginia Amateur and West Virginia Open and seems poised to lead the Patriots again this season.
“It should be good, I think we’re playing pretty good,” Kalaskey said. “It feels a little bit different because we’re expected to win I feel like. We didn’t win by much today. It’s a little bit different because everyone expects you to play well and when you don’t, it sucks.”
Hurricane was led by a round of 75 from Sam White and came up just short despite matching rounds of 78 from Nathan Neville and Paxton Gordon.
White made the state tournament as an individual a year ago after Hurricane came up just short as a team in the Class AAA Region 4 tournament. The three players who scored for the Redskins on Friday are all seniors and White said the team is hungry to try and make up for the disappointment at last season’s end.
“We look pretty strong,” White said. “We’ve got three or four solid players that can all break 80. I think we can be contenders if we all show up on the same day.”
Fairmont Senior’s Clark Craig matched White with a 75 as the two tied for fourth just ahead of Capital’s Joe Kramer, who shot a 76.
Backing Duncan’s round, Shady Spring came in third in the team race five shots back of Hurricane while Cabell Midland and Fairmont Senior rounded out the top five.
n Woodrow Wilson’s Mary Denny was awarded the Larry Martin Sportsman of the Year award, given to a player on the Calloway Junior Tour. Denny was the Tour’s female player of the year as well. Larry Martin founded the Calloway Junior Tour 35 years ago and the award in his honor began six years ago.