Strasburg’s Stickles, Stonewall Jackson trio qualify for state golf tournament

Austin Stickles

HARRISONBURG — Having the right mindset can be important in any sport. On Monday it helped Austin Stickles qualify for the state golf tournament.

Things were looking pretty bleak for the Strasburg junior after his first 11 holes in the Region 2B golf tournament held at Heritage Oaks Golf Course. Stickles turned things around over the final seven holes to advance to the Class 2 State tournament for the second time in the last three years.

Stickles had a triple-bogey on the 11th hole and was seven-over par at the time. Stickles said he just had to put the bad hole behind him.

“I just got to forget about those holes,” Stickles said. “Really my goal there is I knew I had a bad hole. And I knew I just had to hit it straight and get it on the green and just try to get pars. And that really helped save my round.”

Stickles was able to birdie the 16th and 17th holes, which helped give him a 75 for the day.

Stickles said on the 16th, a par 5, he had to decide whether he wanted to try and hit it on the green or two or play it safe.

“I ended up going for it, and I was on the green,” Stickles said. “And I made a birdie there. Same thing with 17, I hit a nice shot and made a birdie.”

Stickles said he struggled with his putting on the front nine, and shot a 39 on the front nine.

Stickles said his chipping was one of his biggest strengths Monday.

“Especially on the back nine, I was chipping it real close,” Stickles said. “Leaving myself inside three feet the majority of the time. And I think that helped me a whole lot.”

Stickles was the only local Class 2 golfer to advance to the state tournament, which will be held at Heritage Oaks Golf Course on Oct. 9 and 10.

Stonewall Jackson’s Nick Dotson, Yash Desai and Alan Arnesen qualified for the Class 1 State tournament Monday at the Region 1B tournament held at Manor Golf Club in Farmville. The Class 1 state tournament will also be held at Heritage Oaks Golf Course on Oct. 9 and 10.

Only one team and five individuals advanced to the state tournament.

Wilson Memorial won the Region 2B team event with a 319. Robert E. Lee was second with a 320, followed by Central (337) and Strasburg (338).

Coy Jimenez led Central with a 79, but missed qualifying for the state tournament by three strokes.

“He played well,” Central coach Britt Scott said. “He started picking it up a little bit toward the end of the year.”

Central’s Sam Shifflett shot an 83, while teammate Brandon Davis shot an 87 and Luke Estep an 88.

Central won the Bull Run District regular season title, but weren’t playing as well at the end of the season and it continued on Monday.

“They didn’t play well,” Scott said. “They came up and had good practice rounds the other day, but they just crumbled. They knew what scores they needed to get and they just didn’t come up with it. But all in all it was a good season.”

Strasburg’s Jack Burr shot an 86, while his brother, James, shot an 88. Strasburg’s Drew Thomas shot an 89. Strasburg’s Seth Stickley shot an 88, but was later given an 8-stroke penalty for having too many clubs in his bag and finished with a 96.

Strasburg coach Joel Morgan said he was pleased with the season his young squad had. The Rams have no seniors in their top six players.

“Hopefully the kids will get out there and play over the summer like they’re supposed to and come in ready to go,” Morgan said. “Maybe we can build on this for next year. And maybe the kids will get a little experience this year being here. And if we’re fortunate enough to get back again next year maybe we’ll get another shot of putting up some better scores.”

Stickles, who missed most of the season due to a knee injury, advanced to the state tournament as a freshman but missed by a few strokes last year.

He said it felt good to qualify for the state tournament, especially since he just returned a month ago.

“My goal was just try to make it to regionals and do the best that I can,” Stickles said. “I knew I had to put a lot of hard work in there those weeks prior to regionals. But I was just hoping I could come out here and shoot a decent score.”

Stickles said it should help him that the state tournament is played on the same course next week. He said Monday’s performance should give him confidence going into the state tournament.

“I’m pretty confident in my game plan next week,” Stickles said. “Just straighten out the putting a little bit and get my drives — keep them squared away — and I think I’ll be fine.”

Dotson shot a 79 to advance to the Region 1B tournament, while Desai shot an 82 and Arnesen was the fifth qualifier with an 86. Stonewall Jackson, which finished third in last year’s state tournament, finished second in the region with a 355. Central Lunenburg won the team title with a 344.