Stonewall Jackson’s Doston places 11th in Class 1 state golf tournament

Nick Dotson

HARRISONBURG — It was an up and down day for  local golfers on the second and final day of the Class 1 and Class 2 state championships held at Heritage Oaks Golf Course on Tuesday.

Stonewall Jackson’s Nick Dotson struggled and came up one stroke short of earning all-state honors. His teammate Yash Desai was right behind him. Strasburg’s Austin Stickles bounced back from a tough first day and finished just outside the top 20.

Doston started the day tied for seventh, but shot an 83 for a two-day total of 161. He finished 11th in the Class 1 individual state tournament. The top 10 earn all-state honors and receive a medal. Dotson said his goal was actually to finish in the top five, but nothing was working for him.

“Of course they’re 10 good golfers ahead of me and they deserve it,” Dotson said. “I played with some of the guys that just barely edged me out, and they definitely had good rounds. But I know what I’m capable of and I’m capable of way, way, way, better than what I played to (Tuesday).”

Dotson, who started his round on the back nine, said he had four triple bogeys on the day. He said he made a birdie on 15, which was a hole that he triple-bogeyed on Monday.

Yash Desai

Dotson said he thought that might turn his day around, but he made another double-bogey on 16 and just couldn’t get any momentum going. He said he had trouble with his drives and his short game wasn’t working either.

“I know what I can and can’t do on the golf course and (Tuesday) I just didn’t keep it together.”

Desai finished 12th overall in the Class 1 individual state tournament. He followed up Monday’s 82 with an 81 for a 163.

Desai, who struggled with his putting on Monday, said that he made a 20-footer to save par to start his day Tuesday and thought his putting might have been working.

“By the fifth hole, I started three-putting and missing those short putts again,” Desai said. “I need to train myself to keep my mind strong and just make those short putts.”

Austin Stickles

Desai said he had birdies at No. 2 and No. 7.

Desai, who started his day on the back nine, said he struggled with his drives on the back nine, but turned it around after that.

“I kind of figured it out,” Desai said of his drives. “And I hit my drives really well on the (front nine). That’s what allowed me to shoot so well.”

After shooting an 87 on the first day, Stickles shot a 76 Tuesday to finish with a total of 163. Stickles finished 21st in the Class 2 individual state tournament.

Stickles said he made some changes that really worked.

“I knew I’d been hitting it bad (Monday) so I just really slowed down my swing, took nice smooth swings instead of hurrying myself up,” Stickles said. “That’s what caused me to screw up (Monday). Because that’s what (Strasburg) coach (Joel) Morgan told me to do. And I think that game plan worked really well today.”

Stickles said he birdied the 18th hole and one of the holes on the front nine.

The junior missed most of the season due to knee surgery. Stickles said he came back on Sept. 19 and he was very happy with how he performed in such a short time.

Stickles qualified for the state tournament as a freshman, but missed it his sophomore year. He said his goal for next year is to do even better next year.

“Next year I definitely want to make it back to the state tournament and I would like to place,” Stickles said. “That would probably be my goal, is to at least make the all-state team.”

Stonewall Jackson’s Alan Arnesen bounced back from a bad start and finished with a 98 Tuesday. He shot a 98 both days for a total of 196.

Arnesen said he shot a 52 on the back nine, and was pleased with how he recovered for the front nine.

The junior said he enjoyed the experience of playing in the state tournament.

“I never thought I’d make it to states as an individual this year,” Arnesen said. “I kind of set that goal for myself after (the district tournament) and I met it. And I was happy.”

Auburn won the Class 1 state championship with a 643. Rappahannock was second with a 670, followed by Central Lunenburg (730) and Holston (735). Auburn’s Carter Vance won the individual title with a 139 (73-66).

Appomattox County won the Class 2 state championship with a 626. Poquoson finished second with a 640, followed by Union (644) and Wilson Memorial (664). King William’s Taylor Hubbard won the individual state title with a 141 (71-70).