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St. Marys’ golf claims LKC

The St. Marys golf team celebrates the program’s Little Kanawha Conference championship at the 2021 LKC Championship Monday at Mingo Bottom Golf Club in Elizabeth. The Blue Devils now have a chance to capture the league title and state championship in the same season. (Photo Provided)

ELIZABETH — A full-on blitz from St. Marys headlined the 2021 Little Kanawha Conference golf championship on Monday from the Mingo Bottom Golf Club in Elizabeth. All five Blue Devils finished in the top eight, earning All-LKC honors and a conference title with a score of 311 in the process. The next closest team score was a 353 from Ritchie County.

“Everyone really took advantage of birdie holes, and I think we used the course and our experience there to our advantage. We got the job done,” St. Marys head coach Catie Hamilton said. “Just putting in the time and the extra hours, (team low scorer Grant Barnhart) kind of struggled for a couple weeks. He went through a slump and took the time to work on what he needed to do to get better. I think the rest of the team (Brayden Hall’s 78, a pair of 79s from Trent Renner and Brandon Lawhon, and an 80 from Preston Lawhon) was really steady. We didn’t want to put up big numbers.

“We wanted to go for pars and occasional birdies with bogeys at worst. We wanted to stay consistent when we were out there, and we managed to do that today.”

However, it was Roane County’s Emerson Simons who shot the lowest round of the day (74). She edged out SMHS’s Barnhart (75) to be named the conference’s Player of the Year. Simons previously competed at Mingo Bottom during the Girls State Championship on September 7, where she shot an 80, which was enough to finish seventh in that crowded field. Now, she’s at the top of the LKC heap.

“I had no idea it was that close until I got finished,” Simons said of her close call with Barnhart. “My first hole, I birdied it. I started out pretty well, and I tried to keep calm, relaxed and focused on the next hole. I’m just going to try to take notes of what I did today and keep notes for regionals next week. I was hoping to be in the All-Tournament team. I had no idea I would come out as a medalist. It was a very big surprise.”

While Simons and Barnhart took the top spots, defending champion Blake Lewis (Parkersburg Catholic) finished tied for third with St. Marys’ Hall (78). Renner and the Lawhons finished right behind them. Rounding out the All-Tournament top eight was Tyler Consolidated’s Mason Nichols, with an 82.

In the case of second-place Ritchie, the trio of Logan Hilkey (86), Andrew Freeland (86) and Cole Darnold (88) allowed the Rebels the opportunity to take the runner-up position. Williamstown (365) took third by beating Wahama (with leader Connor Ingels) by five strokes behind the efforts of ‘Jackets like William Barniak (88) Logan Borkowski (89) and Gavin Bosgraf (92).

Rounding out the top five team scores was Roane (372). While Simons led the way for the Raiders, teammates Cole Ellis (89) and Lucas Hall (93) came through when needed.

Narrowly missing the top eight but still putting up key numbers were some other top golfers around the conference. Gilmer County’s James Mohr led his team with an 83, which helped GCHS reach sixth in the team scores with a 380. Calhoun County’s Chase Blair scored an 84, finishing just two strokes off the top eight pace.

In another big win for St. Marys, and Hamilton gave her thoughts on the events ahead for the team.

“We have a home match this Wednesday, which is our Senior Night. Then, our next big match is regionals on Tuesday,” she said. “Today was really important for our confidence. The LKC and regionals are on the same course this year. To be able to put up such a low team score on our regional course is going to be a great confidence-booster for us going into next week.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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