Generals finish second at states

By Jeff Nations

FRONT ROYAL — There will probably come a time when Stonewall Jackson High School’s golf team can reflect with no small amount of pride on its accomplishments this season.

That time will have to come later. On Tuesday, the Generals felt little but disappointment after finishing seven strokes behind Graham in the Class 2A state golf championship at Shenandoah Valley Country Club. Stonewall was denied a 10th state championship, instead settling for the runner-up trophy after a frustrating day when little seemed to go their way on the course.

“It’s disappointing because I know the talent we have on this team,” Stonewall Jackson senior Andrew Good said. “We just didn’t come through. Second place isn’t bad — it’s not what we wanted because I know what this team can do. It just didn’t come together and we still got second.”

The Generals entered the day deadlocked with Graham, but the G-Men soon started creating some distance. A three-hour fog delay pushed back the tee times, but it didn’t seem to faze Graham’s Zach Toohey and Ben Ramsey. Toohey, who’d fired a team-best 72 on Monday playing in the second group, came out smoking again. He finished the front nine (Blue) with a double-eagle to help his team gain extra strokes.

Stonewall’s Colton Harlow, playing in the same group after shooting a team-best 77 in the opening round, had the opposite experience. Toohey’s game seemed charmed, and Harlow felt his was cursed on Tuesday.

“It was just a bad day overall,” Harlow said. “Nothing went right for me today. Drives weren’t straight, putts weren’t going in, I flubbed a couple chips. It was just terrible. I wish I could redo it all.”

Good, who had a rough opening round with an 82 — a high score for him — never could gain much momentum on Tuesday. An unfortunate penalty stroke seemed to sum up his luck on Tuesday. After reaching the green during a hole on the back nine, Good found that his ball had a divot underneath, and gained permission to try and fix it. As he was approaching the ball for a putt, the ball rolled back into his ball mark for an automatic one-stroke penalty.

“That was a small part of it. The main thing, just a lot of missed short putts,” Good said. “I wasn’t hitting them confidently. I was trying too hard to place it in the hole instead of stroking it into the hole.”

As the scores started rolling in, the outlook grew bleaker for Stonewall Jackson. Only Ben Rosenberger, Stonewall’s No. 4 who’d shot a 91 on the opening day, managed to shave off any strokes among the bottom five. With Toohey and Ramsey once again playing lights-out for Graham, it became apparent Stonewall’s slim gap created by the bottom four wouldn’t be enough.

“I wish we could’ve built up a better lead on the first day, I guess,” Generals coach Roger Wilkins said. “I was just hoping to be in it after the first day, and we were. We came out today, and I don’t know what the reason was — there’s no reason — none of us played that well.”

Toohey carded a second-round 77 for a two-day 149, and Ramsey came in with a 78 to finish with a 156. Good was better with an 80 to finish with a 162, and Harlow settled for a frustrating 83 on the second day to finish with a team-best 160.

“We just had bad days,” Harlow said. “I guess you can’t really help it, but I’m sure everyone on our team wishes they could’ve played better. You can’t take it back now. It’s too late.”

Floyd County, which entered the day 10 strokes off the lead, made a run at the Generals for second place behind individual state champion Amanda Hollandsworth. After shooting a 70 on the first day, Hollandsworth shrugged off two double bogeys to finish with a 73 and help her team get within seven strokes of Stonewall. Hollandsworth finished with a 143, six strokes better than Toohey for the individual state title.

Also providing scoring finishes for Stonewall were Kory Somers (90 on Tuesday, 172 overall) and Rosenberger.

“He played an excellent match today,” Wilkins said of Rosenberger. “I’m very proud of him. He’s got tremendous golf ability and it’s just trying to get him to believe in it. He came back and believed in it today.”

Rosenberger said he still struggled with his putts, but he was glad the rest of his game came around for the second day of state play.

“It definitely went a lot better than yesterday,” Rosenberger said. “After playing the way I did yesterday, I thought to myself there’s no way I can do this again. I have to play better. So I just tried my best to play better, and I did, thankfully.”

Wilkins was every bit as disappointed as his players in the outcome, even though the Generals attained their season-long goal of reaching the state tournament after falling short in regionals last year. The tournament was the last for Stonewall’s three seniors — Good, Harlow and Eric Arnesen.

“It just wasn’t our day,” Wilkins said. “We just came up seven strokes short. I’m very proud of them. I’m going to miss those seniors. They’re awesome kids. They were great leaders and great players.”

In the Class 1A state tournament, Holston won the team title with a combined 658 to top runner-up Parry McCluer by 13 strokes. Parry McCluer’s Cody Buchanan won the 1A state title with a 148.

Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or jnations@nvdaily.com>. Follow on Twitter @J_NationsNVD