By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Sherando senior Chris Slater accomplished just about everything he set out to do during Thursday's Region II tournament at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club.
Slater, coming off a disappointing performance on Monday in the Northwestern District tournament, rebounded nicely on Sherando's home course. Slater fired a 76 on the par-71 course on Thursday, setting the senior up for a shot at advancing to the Group AA state tournament.
Unfortunately for Slater, four others also carded scores of 76, which meant five golfers were left to fight for the two remaining state-qualifying spots. Slater was out-dueled on the opening playoff hole, leaving him short on his goal of reaching the state match.
"It was a pretty solid day compared to [Monday] with my [score of] 90," Slater said. "Today I started off a little rough -- I was four-over par after three holes -- and I thought, 'Here we go again.' But I swung free today; I didn't really worry about it too much. It was a pretty good day, I was pleased."
Slater opened the playoff hole -- the par-4 first hole on the Red Course -- with a poor drive that landed under a pine tree to the left of the fairway. Slater needed four shots to reach the green, and two-putted for double-bogey.
"I thought I'd play like I did the first time around. I had a very simple approach to it," said Slater. "I knew when I'm laying three [strokes] and I'm not even on the green yet, I know I'm out of it. But I finished it out and kept my head up high. At least I had a chance."
As a team, Sherando put together its best performance of the season. The Warriors finished in sixth place out of eight teams, but Sherando's total score of 327 was the lowest it has shot all season.
The Warriors beat Northwestern District champion James Wood for the first time this season. The Colonels, led by Roger Repasky's 74, finished with 329 strokes. Repasky will be the lone representative for the Northwestern District at the state tournament.
Western Albemarle finished first with a total of 300. Dominion, led by Sam Stilwell's tournament-low 69, took second with a score of 305.
Along with Slater's 76, the Warriors were led by Savannah Ford (82), Anthony Pierro (84) and Mason Scott (85).
"I think today was more reflective of what kind of team we really have," Sherando coach Rob Wright said. "They did well today. I couldn't be more proud of them."
Skyline senior Joe Dawkins also had aspirations of possibly playing his way into the state match, but Dawkins ended the day with a score of 83.
Dawkins said he has shot a 75 on the course before, but he struggled with his short game on Thursday. Dawkins was still happy with his performance, and he said it was a vast improvement over his experience in the regional tournament last season at Crozet.
"Actually, I was having good day. Putting was a little bit of an issue on the back nine," Dawkins said. "I didn't have a totally bad day -- it was about the best round I've shot all year tournament-wise, so I can't really complain about it too much. I'm not too far from where I wanted [my score] to be, but it would've been nice to be there."
Senior Rob Willard also represented Skyline on Thursday, but struggled on his way to a 90.
Although both of his players fell short, Hawks coach Colin Miller is pleased with what the pair has brought to the team this season.
"Joe and Rob came through to come to regions, and I'm really proud of them," Miller said. "A big goal of both of theirs was go to states, but you have to get to regions first, and they accomplished that goal."