By Tommy Keeler Jr.
HARRISONBURG -- Two days can make a big difference.
Stonewall Jackson had its worst round of the season on Monday at Heritage Oaks golf course in Harrisonburg. Two days later, they bounced back with their best one of the season.
The Generals shot a 301 as a team to win the Conference 35 golf tournament on Wednesday at Heritage Oaks golf course. Strasburg finished second with a 307, and both teams advance to the Region 2A East golf tournament. The regional tournament will be held on Oct. 7 in Williamsburg.
The last three years the Generals finished second in the Shenandoah District tournament, by two strokes each time. With the Shenandoah no longer holding a district tournament, the conference tournament win was even sweeter for the Generals.
"To finish in second place the last three years by two strokes every time, and to get this, this year by six strokes is a great feeling," Stonewall Jackson senior Andrew Good said. "I'm proud of the whole team. Our highest score was an 82, I'm proud of that. I'm proud of the work everybody put in this year."
Good led the way for the Generals with a 2-under par 68 to earn the medalist honor. Good said he shot poorly in the nine-hole match the Generals played on Monday, and worked on his game over the next two days.
"[Monday] night my dad and I started talking, and we went through my swing and we figured out what I was doing wrong," Good said. "I went out and practiced [Tuesday] -- shot a 2-under for nine holes at Shenvalee -- and came here feeling better, because I had worked on my swing and figured out what I was doing wrong."
Good said he a key to his round was a par putt he made on the 11th hole. He had to take a drop at a hazard, and made a 20-foot par putt to remain at 2-under for his round.
The 68 is the best round Good has had during his high school career.
"It's a great feeling," Good said. "This is great, senior year, last conference tournament, and to come out and play as well as I did this year feels great."
The Generals had plenty of players step up and produce big rounds. Stonewall Jackson's No. 2 Jonathan Koontz suffered an arm injury earlier this season, and Wednesday was his first time playing 18 holes in a match since Aug. 26. He still shot an 82, and had others to step up in his place.
Stonewall Jackson senior Colton Harlow shot a career-best 74, after struggling on the front nine.
Harlow was 5-over after the first nine holes, but went 1-under on the back nine.
"I just knew that I had to do good to help my team, and that's all I was thinking about was the team," Harlow said. "[Stonewall Jackson] coach [Roger Wilkins] told me that it was going to be tough [for the team to win the tournament] if my score was up higher, so I knew I had to work hard to get it back down."
Harlow said knowing that the team needed him helped motivate him to do better on the back nine.
Harlow also made a key par on the ninth hole, which helped give him some momentum on the back nine.
"My first shot was in the woods, and I had to take relief from a rock," Harlow said. "I was in some pretty thick rough and I punched it out, which was a pretty good recovery shot. Then I went up and in for par. I knew I needed to do as good as I could on that hole to make the front nine not as bad of a round as it was going to be.
"Going into the back nine I was like well 'I had a good finish hole for the front. I know I can do good on the back nine', and that's what I did."
Another key player for the Generals was junior Kory Somers, who shot a career-best 78.
"I played really well. It was a long time coming," Somers said. "I thought I had been hitting the ball well in practice and everything. Today it felt like it paid off.
"I hit just about every fairway out there. That really helped."
Strasburg's Jacob Smith also had a career day. The junior shot a 1-under 69 to finish second overall. Smith started out on the back nine, and then shot a 3-under on the front nine.
"I started out with a 38 on back nine, which is pretty difficult," Smith said. "I thought if I can just do decent on front nine, I'll be fine and I shot 3-under. It was like I couldn't do anything wrong today.
"I fixed my putting and I worked on my long game too, and it just all clicked today."
Strasburg's Tyler Doman shot a 74, and Colten Smith shot a 79. Garrett Richards shot an 85, while Gage Teft had a 90 and Resse Taylor a 92 for the Rams.
Strasburg coach Ricky Bowley said he was happy with how his team played.
"Everyone contributed and played well and because of that we're able to advance to Region 2A East as a team," Bowley said. "We feel good about that. We're pretty excited about it."
Ben Rosenberger shot an 81 and Eric Arneson an 82 for the Generals.
The Generals made regionals last year, and this year want to take things a step further.
"I believe we can keep going, come in and place good at regionals and go from there," Somers said. "That's a huge team goal this year. We have three seniors in our top six. This is the year to do it -- to make it to states."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org