Rams cruise to Shenandoah County golf title

Strasburg senior Corey Clinedinst chips a shot onto the 18th green during the Shenandoah County golf meet at Bryce Resort on Thursday afternoon. Brad Fauber/Daily
Strasburg sophomore Austin Stickles tees off during the Shenandoah County golf meet Thursday at Bryce Resort. Brad Fauber/Daily
Central junior Coy Jimenez attempts a putt on the 16th green during the Shenandoah County golf meet on Thursday at Bryce Resort. Brad Fauber/Daily
Stonewall Jackson's Nick Dotson watches his tee shot on hole 17 during the Shenandoah County golf meet on Aug. 25 at Bryce Resort. Dotson shot an 82 on Monday to lead Stonewall to second place in the Conference 44 tournament. Brad Fauber/Daily file

BASYE – Strasburg High School senior Cory Clinedinst had been struggling on the golf course over the last week and a half, as he’d barely been able to shoot a sub-50 during 9-hole competitions in that span, according to Rams head coach Joel Morgan. But as Clinedinst was wrapping up his round at the annual Shenandoah County golf meet Thursday afternoon at Bryce Resort, Morgan remarked that his senior golfer was shooting “out of his mind.”

Clinedinst, playing as the Rams’ No. 5 golfer on Thursday, fired the best round of his brief golf career, as he carded an 83 on the par-71 course to tie teammates Austin Stickles and Seth Stickley for the title of individual county champion, his first low-medalist honor in any tournament.

“I don’t know what happened with me today,” said Clinedinst, who hadn’t played the sport before he joined the Rams’ golf team last fall. “The beginning of the season, through practice, I wasn’t shooting good but today something just kicked into me.”

Strasburg’s trio of medalists, as well as a 91 by No. 6 golfer Drew Thomas, powered the Rams to the overall team title with a final four-man total of 340 strokes. Central, playing on its home course, placed second with 368, while Stonewall Jackson (374) was third.

Thursday’s county title was the fourth in the last six seasons for the Rams, who have essentially rebuilt their starting lineup around the sophomore Stickles.

“Those other five spots, I mean we don’t have anybody there that hardly played a match last year,” Morgan said, “so for those guys to come out and play as well as they did today was real pleasing to see.”

Clinedinst’s career round included a birdie on the par-5, 534-yard No. 13, his only one of the day. He had a chance to claim sole possession of the individual county championship on the 18th hole but sent his tee shot out of bounds before double-bogeying the par 3.

“I really don’t have anything bad to say about it really,” Clinedinst said of his round. “I did everything good, hit everything good. Had a couple bad shots here and there but everything else was good.”

Stickles, the Rams’ No. 1 golfer and a Group 2A state tournament qualifier last season as a freshman, was less pleased with his round Thursday, especially after firing a 78 in Strasburg’s qualifying round at Blue Ridge Shadows in Front Royal earlier this week. He didn’t have any birdies but saved par on nine holes.

“It was a little higher than I expected,” Stickles said of his score, “but a couple times I pushed my drives out to the right and that got me in some trees and a little bit of trouble. And then my irons I kept pulling left. I couldn’t really get those straightened out.”

Stickley, the fourth golfer in Strasburg’s six-man lineup, recorded two birdies in his round, one on the par-4 No. 4 and another on the par-4 No. 12.

“I hit the ball pretty solid. My short game was a little off but it worked out,” Stickley said.

“I had pretty good approach shots to put myself pretty close to the hole (on the two birdies) and I sunk the putts.”

Central, which edged Strasburg by two strokes for the county championship last season, had no such luck Thursday. Junior Coy Jimenez was the lone Falcon to earn all-county honors – reserved for the top six individuals – as he led Central with an 89 out of the No. 1 spot.

Falcons head coach Jeff Walters said he was pleased with Jimenez’s resiliency during his seesaw round.

“He hit some really terrible shots which could’ve really frustrated less mentally strong kids and he stuck with it and plugged it out,” Walters said. “And by doing that you finish second (as a team) instead of third, so there’s something to be said for that even when you’re not playing your best.”

Despite finishing third for the second straight season, Stonewall had two golfers earn all-county medals. Junior Yash Desai led the Generals with an 87, the fourth-best score of the afternoon, and classmate Nick Dotson was sixth overall with a 90.

“I can tell you that Yash didn’t start off very well,” Generals head coach Steve Burkholder said. “From the very first tee just got kind of unlucky. Hit a nice drive and then got stuck right behind a tree, hit the tree twice. So he battled. He scrambled today. Off the tee didn’t hit very well but scrambled really well.

“Overall as a team, it was as tough course. It’s a lot tighter than what we play at Shenvalee, so a lot of guys were having trouble just off the tee staying in the fairway.”

Jared Rice (92), Brandon Davis (93) and John French (94) contributed to the scoring for Central.

Lukas Fultz (93) and Alan Arnesen (104) also made up the final tally for Stonewall.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com

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