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By Brad Fauber - email@example.com
STANARDSVILLE -- Members of the Central golf team stood huddled under a tree near the 18th hole of the Greene Hills Golf Club, anxiously staring across the green as Madison County's sixth golfer, Ryan Taylor, teed off on the par-3 hole 150 yards away.
With host William Monroe holding a tight grip on first place in the Bull Run District tournament and the Falcons clinging to a one-stroke lead over the Mountaineers for second, Central's regional tournament hopes rested solely on Taylor's final score.
Needing an 89 to vault the Mountaineers ahead of the Falcons, Taylor bogeyed the hole and reported to the score table with a 91, sending Central to next Monday's Region B tournament at Falling River Golf Course in Appomattox.
"We were actually thinking before [Taylor] came in that we were probably not going to get in by like two strokes," said Central sophomore Ben Kline, who led the Falcons with a 76 on the par-71 course and received first-team all-district honors. "Fortunately the kid from Madison didn't shoot too well on the back nine, so we ended up making it in."
After falling short in similar situations in the past, Central coach Jeff Walters is thankful to finally be on the winning end.
"We were in exactly the opposite spot last year, and the last couple years," he said. "We would come in and have lost by one stroke. So it feels good. I feel great for the kids to get in."
Things didn't go so well for Strasburg, which finished fourth in the tournament after entering Monday's match with a very realistic shot at being the team to receive the remaining regional tournament berth.
"We had been playing pretty well as a team for a while, so we felt really good about coming in today," Rams coach Rick Bowley said. "So, you know, we're obviously very disappointed in our performance -- I kind of felt like we had a chance to do a little better than we did."
Tyler Doman will be Strasburg's lone representative in the regional tournament after defeating teammate Jared Werner in a playoff on the 18th hole for the final individual spot.
"It was hard just going against him because he's a junior," Doman said. "He kind of deserved it more than I did, he played better this year. But I guess I just played better when it mattered."
Central would have had two players, Kline and senior Stephen Truban, qualify as individuals for the Region B tournament had the Falcons not taken second place, but Walters is glad to have his entire team along for the ride.
"It's a team sport, and those guys, not just even the top six, but the other guys on the team are excited," he said. "It's a proud moment for our school, and we [Bull Run District] have a great representative in William Monroe, but we are glad to be there."