By Brad Fauber -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Sherando's Chris Slater turned in a solid performance at the first Northwestern District mini tournament of the season at Rock Harbor Golf Course on Tuesday to help lead the Warriors to a second place finish.
Slater, a rising senior for Sherando, ended the day with an 18-hole total of 80 strokes on the par-72 course, good enough for second place among individual golfers. Slater was on pace to finish the day at four over par before struggling on the 18th hole of the Rock Course, the final hole of the afternoon.
Slater's second shot on 18 hit a tree and went out of bounds, and he hit into two sand traps near the green before finally sinking his eighth stroke on the par-4 hole.
"It was a very, very tough last hole," Slater said. "It definitely wasn't a bad day up to that point. I would like to be between par and 76 - so a 76, I'll take - but the last hole, I don't know. I just have to finish out stronger."
Slater began strong as he shot an even par on each of the first five holes and finished with 38 strokes on the front nine, two over par. Slater also birdied on the seventh and 14th holes, and he narrowly missed scoring an eagle on the tenth hole as his second shot lipped out, but his birdie try lipped out as well and he had to settle for par.
Slater's 80 was six strokes behind James Wood's Will Holmes, who took low-medalist honors with a 74.
Still, Slater's score led Sherando, and he knows he will have to consistently put up solid numbers out of the No. 1 spot for the Warriors, who lack the experience that made them so successful a year ago. Slater is the only returning golfer with significant competitive experience and is a four-year player for coach Rob Wright.
"Coach [Wright] said that I'm probably going to be the leader of the team," Slater said. "I definitely came into the season expecting myself to shoot well and try to be a positive influence on everybody. It made me work a little harder."
Senior Hunter Gronlund carded an 86 for Sherando out of the No. 4 spot, and Savannah Ford (89) and Anthony Pierro (92), also seniors, brought the Warriors' total to 347. James Wood finished in first place in the event with a score of 330.
Wright has been tasked with replacing five of the top six golfers from last year's team that reached the Region II tournament, and he feels confident that this year's team, which includes five seniors, will begin to find their groove as the season progresses.
"Although they're seniors, they're still not game experienced," Wright said. "As they do that during the year they're going to get a lot better. I told them, 'This is you're team. The young ones maybe can help you later in the year, but for now you all are going to set the tone.'"
Skyline finished third in the mini tournament on Tuesday with a total score of 377. The Hawks were led by senior Joe Dawkins' 88-stroke total out of the No. 1 spot.
Dawkins began his day well as he shot three-over-par on the front nine with a score of 39, but shot a 49 on the back nine. Dawkins said fatigue began to set in during the second half of the tournament, and he even offered a reason as to why his energy level was lacking over the last nine holes.
"I forgot to eat breakfast -- you've got to eat breakfast. I learned that lesson today," Dawkins said. "On the front nine, my drives were straight and my irons were close. But by the time I got to the back nine it was opposite, completely. I just got down to the last couple of holes and I was just ready to get it over with."
Senior Rob Willard carded a 90 out of the second slot, and Ben Andrews (99) and No. 5 golfer Greg Weaber (100) capped the scoring for Skyline.
Skyline coach Colin Miller said Tuesday's mini tournament was a success for the Hawks, and he hopes to use it as a stepping-stone as Skyline attempts to make a run for a Region II qualification this year.
"Looking at the scores, coming in third place in our first mini and getting that three points towards districts is good for us today," Miller said. "I was proud of our guys coming in and shooting fairly strong. There are plenty of strokes to drop, and we're going to be working on our putting and dropping strokes. After that, I'm sure we can compete for regions."