Loy, Pearson lead Sherando on first day of Bryan Gunter tourney

Jonah Pearson

FRONT ROYAL  — Jonah Pearson hadn’t played the kind of golf he would have liked at the start of the season. On Thursday, the Sherando senior put together the round he’s been looking for.

Pearson shot a 74 to help lead the Warriors on the first day of the two-day Bryan Gunter tournament at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club. The Warriors are in fourth place after the first round. The tournament concludes Friday at the Winchester Country Club.

“It was definitely good to get the monkey off my back, breaking 80, getting back into scores where I should be. Down near (Sherando’s) Brett (Loy) and Josh (Bianco). So it feels good,” Pearson said.

He said that he started off a little slow, which he said is normal for him, but he quickly regrouped and had a strong round.

“I started off slow. I had two bogeys and then birdied my third hole and was able to turn things around,” Pearson said. “I was able to stay positive, and just keep focused on the next hole.”

Brett Loy

Loy shot a four-under par 67 and has a two-shot lead over Loudoun Valley’s Ryan Hammer. There are 12 teams in the tournament.

Loy said he birdied 9 blue, 10 white, 7 white and 1 blue, and pared the other 14 holes with no bogeys.

“When you have no bogeys it’s always a good day,” Loy said. “I was just trying to play smart and trying to hit every fairway and every green.”

Loy, the 2014 Group 4A golf individual state champion, said he enjoys playing in big tournaments like the Bryan Gunter.

“It makes you bring out the best,” Loy said. “You want to see your team finish up there with some of the top teams. You want to do your best.”

Loy said he was really happy with his chipping and putting on Thursday, and he tried to drink lots of water and stay in the shade to keep the heat from being too much of a factor.

He said that he won’t change anything for his second round today.

“Just sticking with same game plan I had today,” Loy said. “Just find the fairways and greens and good things will come.”

Sherando’s Josh Bianco shot a 76, while Ryan Judy and Brandon Nice each shot an 89. Caleb Dotson shot a 91 for the Warriors. They shot a 306 as a team.

Sherando coach Rob Wright was very happy with how his team played.

“The top three guys you couldn’t ask more out of them, the way they played, and as hot as it got. They held it all together at the end,” Wright said. “We’ve played in tournaments before and sometimes they let the heat beat them and lose concentration. But these guys stayed focused the entire round.

“…We were six strokes better than we did (Tuesday). So as long as we can keep improving all the time like that. We’ve played four matches, so you should be getting very solid. I think today showed us what kind of team we could have.”

Skyline only had four players at the tournament, due to several being out of town on vacations. Skyline’s Lauren Sims shot an 89 to lead the way, but the Hawks didn’t have a team score as Emily Nicola couldn’t complete her round due to illness.

“Today was a little bit of a struggle. They put together some good nine-hole rounds, but as far as the full 18 it was a little bit of a struggle today,” Skyline coach Roy Kelly said. “…We just couldn’t put together a couple of good holes in a row. It was just one of those days.”

Loudoun Valley is leading the tournament with a 289, followed by Washington (W.Va.) (298) and Loudoun County (299).

Today’s round will start at 8:30 a.m. and, like Thursday’s, will be a shotgun start.

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