Loy, Warriors win Conference 21 West golf tournament
FRONT ROYAL – Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club might as well have been considered the home course for Sherando High School’s golf team over the past week.
Prior to Thursday’s Conference 21 West tournament, the Warriors had played two mini-tournaments in that span and practiced regularly at the Front Royal course when not in competition. When the conference tournament rolled around, they appeared right at home.
Sherando topped the six-team field by firing a collective total of 321, besting Woodgrove – last season’s conference champ and a four-stroke winner over the Warriors in last week’s conference mini – by a stroke to claim the team championship, while Warriors senior Brett Loy defended his Conference 21 West individual championship by firing a 1-under-par 71.
“We’ve been practicing out here all week, just going over what we need to do and just how to play smarter, ways to shave off strokes,” said Loy, who dropped a stroke off last week’s score. “I guess we did it. Real good win for us.”
The victory automatically advances the Warriors to the Region 4A West tournament scheduled for Oct. 3 at Algonkian Golf Course in Sterling.
Loy and fellow senior Josh Bianco (81) gave Sherando a nice head start over Woodgrove, as the Warriors held a 10-stroke advantage after two golfers from both teams reported scores.
Loy’s 71 offered him a comfortable winning margin of seven strokes over Woodgrove’s Kyle Potter (78), the individual runner-up.
“I didn’t play very well on the front,” Loy said. “I only hit two greens in regulation, so once I got to the back I just kind of buckled down, really tried to focus. I made four birdies and I was able to turn my round around.”
The first of those birdies came on the par-3 No. 12, and Loy followed that with consecutive birdies on holes 15, 16 and 17 to close out his day.
“I’m trying to do all I can to just keep the momentum going,” said Loy, the 2014 Group 4A state champion. “Just still trying to stick to my game plan.”
Bianco, who began his round on No. 17, joined Loy in earning all-conference (top six) honors on Thursday, as he claimed fifth place individually after winning a playoff hole against Woodgrove’s Joey Eastman.
“I started off bad. Started off with a double (bogey), then I started bogey golf and then I got to (hole) 6 on the front and I had my first birdie here in a tournament – only took me 44 holes,” Bianco said with a laugh. “That was about the only thing that I did that helped my score today.”
Woodgrove flashed its depth on Thursday, as No. 6 golfer Kelly Klimek carded a 79 to keep the Wolverines tight with Sherando. Warriors senior Jonah Pearson shot an 84, while junior Ryan Judy, playing at No. 4, reported an 85 for Sherando’s final score of the day to seal the victory.
Prior to Thurday, Woodgrove had topped the Warriors in three of four rounds this season (Sherando beat the Wolverines on the first day of the Bryan Gunter Memorial Golf Tournament last month).
“Woodgrove’s got everybody coming back next year,” Sherando coach Rob Wright said, “so I told them this is it, we’re gonna have to do it this year, you know, and work with it. I thought the top three could pretty well handle theirs, it’s just a matter of getting a couple scores in that … number four spot. But Ryan came through with an 85 and that was just enough to do it for us.”
Millbrook placed third in the team standings with a total of 358 strokes, followed by Harrisonburg (363), Handley (376) and James Wood (390).
Sherando’s four-golfer total of 321 was two strokes better than the Warriors’ performance at the Conference 21 West mini on Sept. 15.
“We finished stronger today than we did last week,” Wright said. “I noticed a couple of the players really were getting weak last (week) at the end of it. I don’t know whether it was the earlier start or just we prepared a little bit more for it but they seemed to last.”
Loy said much like the Warriors did over the past week, Sherando plans to play a few practice rounds at Algonkian Golf Course to prepare for the regional tournament.
“We’ve gotta shave off some strokes,” Bianco said. “Everyone on the team does, so we just get out there and practice and hope for the best.”
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137, ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org.