Slater sparks Sherando at Invitational
By Stephen Boyle -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Sherando High School senior Chris Slater has experienced a lot of lasts this golf season.
Wednesday wasn't just the last time he'll ever play at the Skyline Invitational golf tournament at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, it was also his final regular-season event.
"Chris had a good round," said Warriors coach Rob Wright. "It was good to see him back in the 70s where he belongs."
Slater shot a 78 and after losing a playoff to James Wood's Will Holmes and finished fourth in the tournament. First place, third place and fifth place were all decided by playoffs.
Clark County's Brandon Dang edged out James Wood's Taylor Blake for fifth place and the Colonels' Roger Repasky needed four holes to best Brentsville freshman Lance Keiser for first. Skyline coach Colin Miller thinks all the playoffs made the tournament more exciting this year.
"It's sort of fun when everyone comes in and you get that spectator feel," he said.
With three golfers placing in the top six, regular season district champion James Wood won the tournament with a score of 321. Slater's performance helped Sherando to a second place team finish with a score of 340. Skyline finished fifth, behind Fauquier and Clarke County, with a 358.
"[A] 340 gives us something to build on," Wright said of his Warriors' performance. Then he chuckled and added, "We need to figure out how to drop 20 strokes between now and Monday."
Sherando, Skyline and James Wood will all compete in the Northwestern District Gold tournament at Rock Harbor Golf Course on Monday. Skyline's tournament serves as a tune-up not only for districts, but also for the Region II tournament that will also be held at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, the home course for both Sherando and Skyline.
"I'm glad we played today and districts aren't today," said Warren County coach Matt Wadas, whose team finished ninth with a score of 409. "Maybe we can shake some of that rust off."
Since the start of school, most golf teams haven't played a full 18 holes because it gets dark too early, so getting the full 18 in on Wednesday helps players like Slater tune up for the district tournament.
"My scores are dropping," he said. "So hopefully I end up peaking at the right time."
While James Wood is the clear favorite to win the Northwestern District tournament on Monday, the number two spot, which also qualifies an entire team to regionals, is up in the air. Skyline finished 18 strokes behind Sherando on Wednesday, but the Hawks and Warriors have both beaten each other during the season.
"We really wanted to beat them here today," Miller said. "But unfortunately sports don't always work out the way you want them to."
Skyline has never finished in the top two at the district tournament, but the Hawks' coach thinks they "definitely have a capable team" this year.
Wright thinks Sherando's four seniors will give him the edge. It will be the last district tournament for Slater, Anthony Pierro, Hunter Gronlund and Savannah Ford. Gronlund, Sherando's number four golfer, shot an 85 -- the second-best score of any Warrior on Wednesday -- to help his team finish second. He'll need a similar performance Monday to hold back the Hawks.
If Sherando fails to place in the top two, Slater will still likely qualify for regionals as one of the six top individuals, but the lasts are starting to sink in anyways.
"I'd like to play golf in college, but it's kind of bittersweet," said Slater, who is hoping to attend Campbell University in North Carolina. "I think I'll miss my team more than anything."