By Jeff Nations
FRONT ROYAL -- Brett Loy usually gets off to a good start on the golf course, a trait that served the Sherando High School sophomore well in Tuesday's Northwestern District mini-tournament at Shenandoah Valley Golf Course.
With severe weather threatening, the original 18-hole tournament was pared down to nine holes midway through the day. Loy, who was still going strong at 2-under-par on the Red course after completing the front White nine, never had a chance to hit the dreaded lull in his game.
"I usually start off solid, then kind of get shaky towards the middle but then I finish strong," Loy said.
Loy had to give up a stroke in the final scoring -- only the White nine -- but it was still good enough for a one-stroke victory and helped the Warriors pull out a one-stroke win in the team competition as well.
The shortened format might have actually helped Loy a bit, but it did no favors to at least a few golfers. Since only players who had completed the White nine holes factored into the scoring, each team's No. 5 and No. 6 golfers ended up not scoring despite all but one of the No. 5s having finished that segment.
That was particularly disappointing for Sherando's Collin Ordonez and Skyline's Hannah Henry, who both played at No. 5 but had scores low enough to count in the team finish.
"They were [disappointed] because it is a team game of six and you take your best four, but it's something the coaches decided on," Warriors coach Rob Wright said. "We talked it over, and the only two options were to go back and play the common nine or to scrap the whole thing. We only have one other mini tournament, and with our schedule and the early start to school there's no way to get another 18 in so the coaches just decided that this would be the way to go."
A rainy morning gave way to sunlight in the afternoon, before the threat of more severe weather and the rumbling of thunder prompted tournament officials to end play early.
Loy had no issues in navigating the damp course as he finished with a 1-under-par 34 to hold off James Wood's Roger Repasky (35). The Colonels' Hunter Hall and Millbrook's Jeremy Mills tied for third with 36s.
"It was actually fairly dry except for the bunkers and the holes had water in them," Loy said. "The fairways were just like normal, almost. It was pretty much perfect conditions."
Loy bogeyed the No. 6 White, but rallied with a birdie on No. 7 and another on No. 9. Wright thought playing with Repasky helped Loy stay on top of his game.
"His length's improved this year, and he has tremendous scrambling ability," Wright said of Loy. "He gets up and down pretty well."
The Warriors also got scoring finishes from Jonah Pearson (39), Mason Scott (42) and Josh Hogue (45). Ordonez also had a 42 for the Warriors.
Anthony Crescienzi led Skyline with a 44.
"Anthony is our senior and he's come in lowest at every single tournament," Hawks coach Colin Miller said. "So he's holding strong and doing what he needs to do."
Other scorers for Skyline were Brandon Griffith (47), Vinni Cassiano (47) and Matt Fritts (55).
"We have a young team," Miller said. "All in all, I tell them we get what we focus on, so focus on what you want. The scores are going down, and the main thing is I just want to get them holes."
Millbrook fell just one shot short of tying the Warriors with a combined 161, followed by James Wood (170), Handley (180) and Skyline (193).
Wright wasn't surprised to see the Pioneers pushing his team, and hope it continues throughout the season.
"Millbrook played well at the end of last year," Wright said. "I was a little bit surprised with what they shot last week, but today I think is more reflective of what they can do. But I'm proud of the kids. It wasn't their best effort for a lot of them, but they hung together enough to pull it out."
Contact staff writer Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com