PARKERSBURG - In preparation for today's state golf tournament in Wheeling, Roane County golfers were given a well-deserved day off away from the course this past weekend.
It was only appropriate that a few members opted to go hunting on Saturday because that's exactly the mentality they are taking in relation to a possible Class AA state championship.
"We are excited and ready to go," Roane County coach Jim Kendall said.
Roane County golfer Cole Moore ponders a shot from off the green during last week’s Class AA regional meet at Greenhills Country Club in Ravenswood. Moore and his Raider teammates begin their quest for a possible Class AA state title today at Speidel Golf Course at Oglebay Park in Wheeling. (Photo by Kerry Patrick)
The Raider contingent of Alston Spears, twin brothers Cole and Cam Moore, and Hunter Simmons qualified for this week's meet on the Speidel Golf Course at Oglebay Park by wrapping up the Region I title last Tuesday at Greenhills Country Club in Ravenswood.
"(Regionals) is probably the worst we have played all year, but it doesn't change my thinking," Spears said. "A win is a win, and now our main focus is on the state tournament."
Roane County's resume this season is impressive, considering this group nearly became the first non-Class AAA program to finish first in the overall point standings for the Top Flite Junior Tour's High School Series since the event's inception in 2007. The Raiders finished a mere 50 points behind eventual champion George Washington.
By competing at all four stops of the High School Series, Roane County gained some knowledge of possible state contenders such as Bridgeport and Fairmont Senior. Bridgeport, however, failed to advance after placing third at the Region II meet in Petersburg. The Indians' chances took a hit when one of their top golfers was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.
"I'm really amazed they didn't qualify -I figured they would have been right with us at the state tournament," Kendall said.
Fairmont Senior, which placed runner-up to Roane County by a one-stroke margin at regionals, finished 10 strokes behind the Raiders at the Ohio Valley Invitational and again by 15 strokes at the Stonewall Resort High School Challenge using the same scoring format as the state tournament.
"When we went to regionals last year, the kids' confidence level wasn't up until we got finished and realized we finished only a couple of strokes behind (eventual state champion Ritchie County) - that gave them a boost," Kendall said. "It's kind of the opposite this year. We were the ones who were almost scooted up on."
Forrest Greenlee will be used as an alternate for Roane County, which placed sixth at state a year ago.
Also in Class AA, junior Sydney Snodgrass will take a different approach as the lone Ritchie County representative. Her previous two trips to Wheeling resulted in a pair of state team titles for the Rebels.
"It's going to be harder this year," Snodgrass admitted. "In the past, when I was playing bad I still needed to give everything I had because I couldn't let the team down."
In Class A, St. Marys joins a field which includes defending state champion Charleston Catholic. Corey Wells, Coleman Lamp, Robbie Harper and Josh Richard will represent a Blue Devil squad which placed runner-up to Region I champion Madonna last week at Williams Country Club in Weirton.
Local individuals who also qualified include Parkersburg Catholic's Ben Collie, Gilmer County's Austin Cunningham and Tyler Consolidated's Corey Wells.
"I've played Speidel probably four or five times- it's a challenging course, but if you hit the ball solid you can play well and it can be really fun," Collie said.
Providing local interest in Class AAA is Parkersburg South sophomore Alex Schreckengost, who qualified as an individual after shooting a 79 at the Region I meet at Preston Country Club in Kingwood.
"My gameplan is to keep everything in front of me," Schreckengost said.
Across the river in Belpre, the Golden Eagles are seeking to qualify as one of the top three teams out of an Ohio Division III district meet at Cumberland Trail Golf Club in Pataskala.
"This is a pretty tough place to go," Belpre coach Scott Miller said. "But one thing, this is a good team we have and we will give it our best shot."
The contingent of Sam Petty, Alex Perry, Hayden Plummer, Bryce Pittinger and Dakota Hoffman led Belpre to a sectional title last week at Jaycees Golf Course in Chillicothe. The status of Brennen Ferrell, who did not compete because of an injured wrist, will be a gametime decision.