Youthful Warriors, Hawks have learning experience in Bryan Gunter tourney

WINCHESTER –Sherando and Skyline had a good learning experience in this year’s Bryan Gunter Memorial Golf Invitational.

Neither team finished in the top half, but both young squads saw plenty of positives. It was a two-day tournament. The first round was played at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Front Royal on Thursday. The second round was played Friday at Winchester Country Club.

“For four of them it was the first time they had played here,” Sherando coach Rob Wright said. “And I think I always like to use this course as a learning experience. This is a smart course. You got to pick your shots. And it’s easy to get in trouble and it’s hard to get out of trouble.”

The Warriors finished seventh in the 12-team tourney. Washington won the tourney with a two-day score of 592. Sherando finished seventh with a two-day total of 676. Skyline placed 11th with a team score of 725.

Sherando has only two seniors on its roster, while Skyline has three.

“It was a little bit of a struggle (Friday) compared to (Thursday),” Skyline coach Roy Kelly said. “A big thing for us it’s early in the season. We don’t have the number of golfers that are playing so much in the summer. So that consistency sometimes is a little bit of a struggle at the start. We’re hitting the ball well, but it’s the little things short game, chips that just add up the strokes.”

Sherando was led by Ryan Judy. The senior shot an 82 Friday, after shooting a 75 on Thursday for a two-day total of 157.

“It was rough,” Judy said. “I just tried to keep grinding through the day and tried to make good shots. I wasn’t striking the ball well this morning. I woke up pretty sore. I was just trying to do my best today. I wanted to have a good day. It didn’t work out that way.”

Judy said he was having trouble with his approach shots throughout the day.

“I got off the tee pretty well,” Judy said. “Then my second shots just weren’t there today like they were yesterday. I was not hitting greens in regulation. And then I couldn’t putt because of the greens not being in great shape.”

Skyline was led by Lauren Sims. The junior shot an 86, after shooting a 79 on Thursday for a two-day total of 165.

“My chipping was not the best,” Sims said. “I hit my driver pretty well. I had some good par saves on the back nine. My driver was pretty good today. Yesterday I felt like my short game was a lot better. I know today was a difficult day, but I think I did pretty well.”

Sims said her best hole on Friday was No. 10, a par 4. She said she almost holed it in on her second shot and finished with her only birdie of the day.

Loudoun Valley’s Ryan Hammer won top individual honors for the third straight year. He shot a 70 each day for a two-day total of 140.

Sherando’s Caleb Dotson shot an 82 and an 88 for a two-day total of 170. Sherando’s Brandon Nice had a 175 (89-86), followed by Evan Simmons with a 178 (84-94).

The Warriors lost most of their top six from last year to graduation, and Wright said he’s been pleased with what he’s seen so far from his young squad.

“They finally figured out it’s their team,” Wright said. “We’ve had great leadership the last four or five years, and it was easy to rely on those guys. But all of a sudden they said hey ‘it’s us.’ And they’re bonding together. They’re getting good chemistry together.”

Skyline’s Trenton Little shot a 172 (84-88), followed by Brandon Griffith’s 183 (91-92) and Joseph Embrey’s 205 (101-104).

Kelly said he feels like his team could have played better, but he still feels good about the season ahead.

“When you start to look at the scores in comparison to the other teams here, I feel like we’re pretty close to where we need to be,” Kelly said. “And if we can keep going, we’ve got our matches coming up — our duals and everything. If we can play the way we’re capable of then we should definitely be able to get some wins this year. I feel very confident in that.”

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