Smith takes second, Rams third

By Brad Fauber

FRONT ROYAL — Strasburg senior Jacob Smith wasn’t entirely thrilled with his round at the Bull Run District golf tournament held Monday at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club.

Battling a steady breeze and cooler temperatures that arrived just in time for the beginning of autumn, Smith felt like his score probably should’ve been a little lower than his 5-over-par 76.

“I did not hit my driver good at all. But, again, putted well, chipped well. I hit my irons pretty well for the most part,” said Smith, who shot a 71 on the same course at the Skyline Invitational last Tuesday. “It’s a shame I couldn’t hit my driver well, honestly, because it could’ve been another 71. But it’s all right. I’ll take it for not hitting my driver very well.”

Even with his struggles, Smith still tied Madison County’s Austin Kelliher for second-place individually, and the district tournament — now relegated to nothing more than a chance to seize bragging rights — was simply a tune-up for most competitors as the teams prepare for their respective conference tournaments next week.

Regular season champion William Monroe continued its dominance over the rest of the district field on Monday by posting a team score of 306, which ended up being 43 strokes better than second-place George Mason (349). Strasburg (350) placed third and Central (368) was fourth, followed by Clarke County (374), Madison County (374), Warren County (401) and Manassas Park (411).

William Monroe’s Logan Yates also ran away with the Bull Run’s top individual honor, as he fired a 6-under-par 65.

Smith had the daunting task of trying to keep pace with Yates all afternoon, but Smith said the challenge also gave him a little more motivation. Smith finished the round with two birdies, which came on the first and ninth holes of the course’s White Nine.

“I had fun playing with [Yates], honestly. … I knew he was going to hit a good shot, so I just tried to match it,” Smith said. “I just kind of fed off of his great playing, actually.”

In addition to Smith’s 76, Strasburg also notched scoring finishes from Garrett Richards (82), Reese Taylor (95) and Gage Tefft (97). Richards placed seventh individually to earn a spot on the all-district second team.

The top six individuals on Monday earned first-team all-Bull Run selections.

Strasburg had actually been in position to claim second place as a team in the tournament, but Colten Smith’s 77 was crossed off the board after he was disqualified for what Rams head coach Jordan Hardy called a “rules discrepancy.”

“I wouldn’t say anybody hit the ball real well,” Hardy said of the Rams, who will compete in the Conference 35 tournament at Heritage Oaks in Harrisonburg next Monday. “It was a tough day with the wind and it was a little cooler than it has been, but that’s no excuse. That’s golf. We’ve just got to keep grinding out, keep playing hard this week. We were trying to use this … to get better each time we play. Trying to get better for this conference tournament.”

Like Jacob Smith, Central sophomore Joseph Plauger was less than impressed with his round but still managed to play his way into a spot on the district’s first team with a sixth-place finish.

Plauger led the Falcons with a 10-over-par 81, and though he admitted his score was higher than he would’ve liked, he added that he did make some improvements to his game ahead of next Monday’s Conference 28 tournament that will be played at Greene Hills Golf Club in Stanardsville.

“I was finally hitting my driver straight,” Plauger said. “That’s one thing I haven’t been doing all season. I’ve been in the woods or something, but I’m finally hitting my driver straight. I was hitting my irons good like I always have been this year. Wedges were good, short game was good, I just couldn’t make any putts.”

Central freshman Coy Jimenez shot a 92, Davis Weddle fired a 96 and Luke Estep shot a 99 for the Falcons.

The Falcons as a team have shown improvement since placing sixth in the first district mini tournament of the season back in August. Central jumped ahead two spots on Monday with its fourth-place finish.

“We really tried to use today as just a stepping stone, make sure you’re doing everything right [in a] more tournament atmosphere that we’re going to face over in the conference tournament,” Falcons head coach Jeff Walters said. “We know we’re going to have some stiff competition in that conference but hopefully we’ll maybe be able to get a guy, maybe even squeeze two in [to the regional tournament].”

Warren County was led by Courtney L’Amoreaux and Brandon McWhorter, who each fired 98s. Chase Hatfield shot a 101 and Dalton Jenkins fired a 104 to round out the scoring for the Wildcats.

“The kids are doing better. Still not the scores we want yet, but the last three years we’ve finished last in this tournament and obviously we jumped ahead one,” Wildcats coach Matt Wadas said. “… I wanted to be competitive and we’re getting there. Especially with a team with no seniors, I think there’s a good future there.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com