Rams’ Colten Smith wins region golf title

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

HARRISONBURG — Sometimes familiarity breeds success.

That was the case for Strasburg’s Colten Smith. Playing at Heritage Oaks for the second week in a row, the junior shot a even-par 70 to win the Region 2A East golf tournament.

“It helps a lot,” Smith said of playing the course a lot. “Like some people played today from four, five, six hours away — they wouldn’t be too familiar with this course. I just live 45 minutes away. I come here all the time, so I was pretty used to it.”

Smith and all the other golfers had to deal with a brutal wind, which picked up as the day went along and led to some high scores.

Strasburg finished fourth as a team with a score of 331. Robert E. Lee won the tournament with a 319, while East Rockingham was second with a 326. Maggie Walker placed third with a 330.

The top two teams and the top six individuals not on a winning team advanced to next week’s Group 2A state tournament held in Abingdon.

Smith, who shot an 81 in the conference tournament last week, said he felt good about his chances going into the day. He said putting was the key for his round.

“I was just impressed with my putting, overall, because during conference last week my putting was awful,” Smith said. “It just clicked today.”

Smith said for the most part he was able to stay out of trouble, and was able to hit a lot of greens in regulation.

Strasburg coach Jordan Hardy said the conditions were good for Smith.

“He had it going today. I watched him on several holes and I saw him make good swings, and he was kind of just plodding along and he played well,” Hardy said. “He just kept it going. He didn’t make any big numbers, he just pared out. I think in this wind and these conditions that’s the key not making a double, a triple. …I think for him that was a big key — just keeping the ball in play — and he’s a good player.

“He’s good out of the rough. He’s good around the greens. Today was a good set-up for him in these conditions.”

The rest of Strasburg’s team didn’t fare quite as well. Last week the Rams shot a 317 on the same course. Strasburg’s Jacob Smith shot an 80, just missing qualifying for a state berth by a stroke.

“It was not good ball striking, not good putting, not good chipping. It was bad all around,” Jacob Smith said of his round. “[The wind] really played with your shots.”

Stonewall Jackson’s Ben Rosenberger also shot an 80 to just miss qualifying for states. Rosenberger said he was only three-over through the first 11 holes.

“I played excellent on the back nine, which is what I played first,” Rosenberger said. “I didn’t do so well on the front. The wind really affected everything I did. I had multiple three-putts which didn’t help either.”

Stonewall Jackson’s Kory Somers shot an 82 and Jonathan Koontz shot an 88. Stonewall Jackson coach Roger Wilkins said he was very proud of his trio of seniors for the year they had.

“They’re just great kids, and I know they’re going to be very successful in life and will contribute to society in a positive way,” Wilkins said. “I’m really proud of them. I’m going to miss them.”

Despite the Rams finishing fourth, Hardy said he was very pleased with the season the team had.

“I’m proud of their success. I’m proud of them winning the conference,” Hardy said. “Obviously, we’re disappointed we didn’t advance — but that’s golf. You got to shoot the score. You can’t blame it on anything that occurred, because everybody plays the same conditions. A lot of guys made a lot of good progress. A lot of guys did get a lot better and improve.”

The season will continue for Colten Smith, who said he’s never played on the course in Abingdon, but he’s looking forward to it.

“It feels pretty good. I’ve never made it to a state tournament before,” Colten Smith said. “I’m going to go down [to Abingdon] do a practice round, take notes and hopefully that works out good.”

3A East Regional

Central’s Joseph Plauger earned a trip to the 3A state tournament by finishing second overall at Monday’s Region 3A East Regional tournament at Brickshire Golf Club in New Kent.

Plauger fired a 74 to earn first-team all-region honors and a trip to next week’s state tournament. William Monroe won the team title with a combined 309, and Loudoun Valley claimed the other team qualifying spot with a 310.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com