WHEELING -Throw the saying out the window that a tournament can't be won on the first day.
During Tuesday's opening round of the high school state golf tournament, Roane County established a comfort zone between itself and the rest of the Class AA field after turning in a team score of 228.
With 18 holes remaining today, Ritchie County is the Raiders' closest competitor at 251.
"We came out to make a statement," said Roane County's Alston Spears, who turned in the low round of the day at 1-over par 72. "All the hard work we did paid off, and we just went out and executed."
Also representing the Raiders were Cole Moore (76), Cam Moore (80) and Caleb Moore (85).
Spears opened his round on a par 3 and his foursome contributed eight golf balls to the water hazard. However, Spears reached the green on his initial tee shot and converted a 12-foot birdie putt.
On his second hole, Spears chipped in from 30 feet for an eagle and was sitting at 3-under par before his game took a turn for the worse with three consecutive double-bogeys. He closed out the day on a positive note with three birdies over his final five holes.
"I kept making putts and that saved me," Spears said. "With this course, if you hit bad shots, it will bite you. But you just have to move on and keep grinding." Roane County is seeking to become state champions for the second year in a row.
"(Wednesday) is a new day and a new tournament - we'll just go low, so it's just that simple," Roane County coach Jim Kendall said. "We have to play like it's a brand new tournament."
First place isn't necessarily wrapped up, but Ritchie County is just making sure to maintain the status quo and secure its third runner-up trophy in eight years. Competing for the Rebels were Riley Allen (79), Sydney Snodgrass (80), Ben Knight (92) and Jon Harkness (96).
Scott and Westside are tied for third place at 253, while Braxton County follows in fifth place at 259. Poca (261), Wyoming East (262) and Bridgeport (271) round out the field.
"The way they have the course set up, it's not about skill rather it's about survival," Ritchie County coach Ted VanScoy said. "The greens were just brutal. If you were above the hole, you had no prayer.
"Our approach (on Wednesday) is for our kids to win their group because they will be playing with people with the same scores they had (Tuesday). We just have to keep battling."
The story in Class AAA is of contrasting styles as 13 strokes separate the top five schools. Playing on its home course, Wheeling Park sets the pace at 237. Occupying the next three spots are Cabell Midland (244), Shady Spring (244) and Washington (249). At 250, Parkersburg South believes there is an outside chance to place in the top two.
"It's up for grabs," South coach Sherry Morris said. "We just have to play our game tomorrow."
South junior Alex Schreckengost and Wheeling Park's Cole Hand share the first-round lead at 76. Schreckengost was at 2-over par with five holes remaining but bogeyed the next three holes. He maintained his composure and went birdie-par to close out his round.
"I stayed away from the big numbers," Schreckengost said. "Not one part of my game stuck out, but I did keep mistakes to a minimum."
Making his second trip to the state tournament, Schreckengost is in ideal position to make the all-tournament team for the first time.
"I wasn't even close to making all-tournament last year," Schreckengost said. "I saw the kids I played summer golf with who made all-tournament and I could play just as well. That got me fired up and gave me a little motivation."
The rest of the South lineup consisting of Adeena Shears, Garrett Dailey and Noah Smith each turned in an 87.
Several local golfers in Class A are in position to earn an all-tournament berth. After shooting an 80, St. Marys' Coleman Lamp and Parkersburg Catholic's Ben Collie sit three strokes behind frontrunners Michael Rogers of Madonna and Charleston Catholic's Aaron Persily.
Collie, who was making his third appearance at state, managed to overcome four three-putts and one five-putt.
"I tried to hit the center of the fairway, the center of the green and two-putt - that was my gameplan," Collie said. "I felt like there was a lid on the cup. I couldn't get the ball in the hole. "I'm trying to stay focused on the next shot."
Williamstown senior Kody Rhyne and Magnolia's Peyton Moore are among five golfers on the bubble for all-tournament recognition after carding an 86.
"I was pretty solid until the end," Rhyne said. "It got warmer and the greens got quicker, and I couldn't control the ball."
In the team standings, Charleston Catholic leads at 236 and Madonna is second at 245. St. Marys follows in third place at 256. Joining Coleman in the lineup were Robbie Nichols (87), who shot 1-over par 37 on the front nine, along with Drew Wells (89) and Jared Nichols (92).