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By CRAIG WORRELL
DRAPER –– The addition of Graham to the Mountain Empire District this fall put a new perspective on the MED golf tournament, owned for the past 10 years by Galax. The former face of double-A Southwest District golf and a solid Region IV contender the past several years, Graham even handed the Maroon Tide a rare regular season district defeat just last week.
Alas, a team not wearing Galax maroon finally went home from the MED tournament Monday with the team champion’s trophy.
But that award will sit right beside the other 10 straight Galax has already won.
Breaking out some spiffy new black team shirts just for the occasion, Galax turned in a four-man total of 302 to win its 11th straight district tournament championship, holding off Graham by 10 strokes at Draper Valley Golf Club.
“I don’t know if [black] makes a statement or not but the kids may think it does,” said Galax coach Terry Snow of the new garments, provided by a team sponsor. “They seem to like it and we appreciate them being bought for us. Mr. [Bill] Sturgill was at the tournament yesterday and he really liked them, so if you make the superintendent of schools happy it’s pretty good.”
Bringing back another title probably sits well with the administration, as well.
Led by individual champion John Bryant, the Maroon Tide will advance to the Region C tournament Monday at The Homestead along with the G-Men, plus individual qualifiers Tucker Phipps, Gavin Bailey, Cole Davis and Jacob Vaughan of Grayson County and Fort Chiswell’s Josh Quesenberry and Jacob Odum.
“We were pretty solid across the board,” Snow said. “We could have putted the ball better. We had a lot of three-putts, but the other teams did, too. The greens were pretty tough, but it’s a tournament and it’s not supposed to be a gimme.”
Bryant was the only player within shouting distance of par, shooting an even 71 to win medalist honors.
“He just played an exceptional round,” said Snow.
Jon Alouf tied for second overall with a 76, one stroke ahead of teammate Matthew Downey. The Tide’s Travis Cockerham found a hot hand down the stretch to place sixth individually.
“He had a couple of three-putts and all of a sudden he goes birdie-birdie-birdie on the last three holes and makes all-district,” Snow said. “Kids remember the last thing they did on the golf course. I think he’ll remember this when we go to region and he’ll think, ‘I can do this.’ ”
A six-stroke Graham win in a dual match last week in Bluefield may or may not have served as motivation for Galax on Monday but it probably didn’t hurt to know that there was capable competition awaiting.
“Graham has some excellent golfers,” Snow said. “But overall, if we take the top six scores every time, we’ve got the top six, but they don’t let you do that. Our highest score was an 80, and so was theirs. What happened was John came in with a 71 and their best guy came in with a 76. That’s a five-shot difference and that’s a whole lot.”
The Tide made a visit to The Homestead a few weeks ago for a practice round in anticipation of defending the region championship it has won the past two years.
“It’s got some tricky holes but it’s got some holes you can make some good scores on,” said Snow. “You’re dealing with 16- and 17-year-old kids, so it’s hard to say.”
Mountain Empire District
Tuesday, Draper Valley G.C.
John Bryant (Galax) 71
1. Galax – 302
John Bryant 71, Jon Alouf 76, Matthew Downey 77, Travis Cockerham 78.
2. Graham – 312
Ben Taylor 76, Morgan Brewster 77, Ben Ramsey 79, Andrew Day 80.
3. Grayson County – 353
Tucker Phipps 82, Gavin Bailey 89, Jacob Vaughan 91, Cole Davis 91.
4. Fort Chiswell – 375
Josh Quesenberry 86, Willie Dalton 91, Jacob Odum 91, Jacob Primm 107.
All-district team (top 6)
John Bryant (Galax) 71, Jon Alouf (Galax) 76, Ben Taylor (Graham) 76, Matthew Downey (Galax) 77, Morgan Brewster (Graham) 77, Travis Cockerham (Galax) 78.
Individuals advancing to
Region C tournament:
Tucker Phipps (Grayson County) 82, Josh Quesenberry (Fort Chiswell) 86, Gavin Bailey (Grayson County) 89, Jacob Odum (Fort Chiswell) 91, Cole Davis (Grayson County) 91, Jacob Vaughan (Grayson County) 91.
Matt Brittain of Abingdon blistered the challenging Olde Mill Golf Resort and Richlands coasted to the team championship in the Southwest District golf tournament Tuesday.
Only one other player was within seven shots of Brittain, who finished 1-under par on the redesigned Olde Mill layout. Zack Luttrell of Richlands was second overall with a 75 while Marion’s Austin Blevins and Richlands’ Zack Yates tied for third at 78.
Luttrell and Yates led the Blue Tornado to a composite 324, 16 shots better than runner-up Marion. Abingdon was third at 350, followed by Carroll County (387) and Tazewell (397).
Carroll County’s Austin Horton shot 86 and Halyard Burton turned in a 91 to qualify for the Region IV tournament next week.
Tuesday, Olde Mill G.C.
Matt Brittain (Abingdon) 70
1. Richlands – 324
Zack Luttrell 75, Zack Yates 78, Jared McGaffee 84, Dylan Sawyers 87.
2. Marion – 340
Austin Blevins 78, Nikolai Clary 85, Easton Starkey 88, Taylor Trail 89.
3. Abingdon – 350
Matt Brittain 70, Tyler Presley 86, Canaan Whichard 96, Cody Lyle 98.
4. Carroll County – 387
Austin Horton 86, Halyard Burton 91, Dane Shinault 101, Ryan Gravley 109.
5. Tazewell – 397
Ryan Lark 90, Colin Hancock 91, Blake Hash 103, Lucas Robinson 113.
Individuals advancing to
Region IV tournament:
Matt Brittain (Abingdon) 70, Tyler Presley (Abingdon) 86, Austin Horton (Carroll County) 86, Ryan Lark (Tazewell) 90, Halyard Burton (Carroll County) 91, Colin Hancock (Tazewell) 91.