Facing the JRD challenge

Published 10:33 am Thursday, September 21, 2017

Players showed promise within the varsity golf programs of Buckingham County, Prince Edward County and Cumberland County high schools Tuesday during the James River District (JRD) tournament, but the programs could not keep up with the competition at the team level.

Randolph-Henry High School produced the winning team score of 310 at the one-day, 18-hole event hosted by Prince Edward at The Manor Golf Club.

Goochland High School claimed second with a score of 348, Centra Lunenburg was third with a 360, Bluestone High School was fourth with a 397, Nottoway County High School was fifth with a 409, Amelia County High School was sixth with a 423, Buckingham placed seventh with a 439, Prince Edward was eighth with a 455 and Cumberland had no score because it was represented by only one player.

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Knights Head Coach Tim Hoag put his team’s performance in perspective after the tourney.

“For the first time with a bunch of young kids, it’s a tough course, hot conditions, and they’re not used to it, but I think they did very well overall,” he said. “So, I’m pleased with how they battled back.”

Junior Peyton Taylor shot a 99, sophomore Mason Ballowe produced a 109, sophomore Trevor Kelly generated a 110, freshman Matthew Davis recorded a 121 and sophomore Darian Lipscomb registered a 126.

Under the new Virginia High School League realignment, every program advances to the regional level.

Buckingham will play in the Class 2 Region C tournament on Tuesday at Ashley Plantation Country Club in Daleville.

Hoag acknowledged that it could be a long day for his team, “or it could be a really good day. We’ll see.”

Pointing out the significant positives in the state of Buckingham’s program, he said that “we’ve got five kids that are all coming back next year. They all like to play. Even though it’s tough and frustrating, they still battle. I like the way they keep coming back and keep battling. So, it’s good.”

It has been a difficult year for Cumberland’s program, which featured only one player this season — freshman Thomas Bryant.

A program needs at least four players competing in a match to produce a valid team score, meaning the Dukes forfeited all of their matches this season.

The shortage of players resulting in the lack of a team was uncharted territory for Cumberland Head Coach Monroe Preston.

“That’s the first time I experienced it, and I don’t know of anybody else that has,” he said. “So, personally, I feel pretty bad about it.”

He noted that the situation took him by surprise.

“I didn’t see it coming,” he said. “We had some guys that had some other interests and stuff, and I don’t blame them. It’s what they wanted to do. … I’ll welcome them back on the team next year if they want to play.”

Preston said he has some eighth-graders that are showing promise, and he hopes to convince them to join the Farmville Area Junior Golf Program in the summer to help them hone their skills and then transition to the Dukes varsity squad.

But Preston is not overlooking the present, noting that he likes some things he has seen from Bryant.

Bryant shot a 97 on Tuesday, which was higher than Preston expected, “but I saw a lot of promise in him, so I think we can lower that score and let it fall where it falls.”

Bryant will compete in the Class 1 Region B tournament Oct. 2 at The Manor.

Prince Edward will compete in the Class 2 Region A tourney Tuesday at Kinderton Country Club in Clarksville.