By Brad Fauber
WINCHESTER -- Sherando's Brett Loy looks every bit the part of a high school freshman, but his leadership and ability on the golf course screams of an advancement well beyond his years.
Loy immediately stepped in as the No. 1 golfer for head coach Rob Wright's youthful Warriors squad when the high school golf season began back in August, and the freshman has amazed opponents, teammates and even Wright himself with his ability to consistently fire rounds in the low- to mid-70s.
So when Loy carded a one-over-par 73 to take second place at the first-ever Conference 21 golf tournament at Rock Harbor on Tuesday, it hardly came as a surprise to Wright.
"Brett was steady all day, just as he has been all year," Wright said. "I really thought he would [do well]. This is a home course ... he feels comfortable out here. I think he was excited to be playing against the competition that he was. He thrives on competition and by all means he was excited when he saw the lineup. He was excited to take them on."
Loy, who was placed in a group that included Park View's Kirby Struhar (74), Heritage's Ryan O'Sullivan (76) and James Wood's Will Holmes (76), actually led after all of the No.1 golfers had finished in the eight-team field.
Loy's score didn't hold up for long, however, as James Wood No. 2 golfer Roger Repasky carded a 70 (-2), a score that would hold up for the remainder of the tournament. Loy said he wasn't aware of Repasky's stellar round until Loy was just finishing up his day.
"I found out he was three-under on 16 when I was on 18. He shot a 90 last week, so I was pretty surprised," Loy said.
Repasky's outing helped James Wood (322) to a second-place finish as team, eight points behind Loudoun County (314). Both schools qualified for the Group 4A-North regional tournament at Heritage Oaks in Harrisonburg on Oct. 8.
Sherando finished fourth with a team score of (329), a feat that Wright proudly stated was "not bad for a bunch of freshmen and sophomores."
Loy, who is a member at Rock Harbor and plays regularly at the course, was instrumental in that success. The freshman said he was consistent off the tee all day, although he did have some trouble on the greens, which had been aerated just prior to the tournament and appeared patchy in spots.
"I hit my driver very well today. The putts that were shorter were a little more difficult to keep them on line because of the aerated greens," Loy said. "I had three birdies, but I did miss three four-footers, so there was that. I had four bogeys.
"[I was hoping for] 74 or 75, so I got a little under."
Loy's impact on the Warriors on Tuesday did not end when the freshman sank his final putt on the 18th green, however. Immediately after reporting his score, Loy returned to the links to cheer on his teammates, which is something that Loy has been doing since the start of the season.
"The leadership that he provided, you just can't measure that," Wright said. "He kind of took [his teammates] over, and he was like an extra coach out there, really. And they listen to him -- that was the important thing."
Fellow freshman Jonah Pearson followed Loy with an 87, and sophomore Mason Scott also carded an 87 out of the No. 3 spot for the Warriors. Sherando's No. 6 golfer, sophomore Josh Hogue, came through with his best round of the year, firing an 82 that bumped the Warriors over Woodgrove (330) for fourth place.
"We're shooting better now than we did at the beginning of the year, so I think that they grew. The nerves, hopefully, will be gone next year," Wright said. "The potential is there, and like we just told them [after the tournament], next year starts tomorrow. The future looks good, and we're looking forward to it."
Loy was the lone individual from Sherando to qualify for the regional tournament. He said he has never played at Heritage Oaks, although he said he will probably head down there this weekend to get some practice in.
After the poise that Loy has showed all season, Wright isn't concerned about how his star golfer will handle the added pressure.
"He should do real well ... he's been 73, 74 all year, and I don't see any difference why that shouldn't work this time," Wright said. "He's tournament-tested. He's been in a lot of tournaments and he knows a lot of people, and he thrives on competition."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD