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Elizabethton's Schaff finishes second in district golf

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Sep 30, 2015 at 8:05 AM

ELIZABETHTON — Christopher Schaff found the improvement he had been looking for Tuesday in the District 1-A/AA golf championships at Elizabethton Golf Course.

Slogging through wet conditions, the Elizabethton junior remained consistent in his play, particularly in his short game, to shoot an even-par 72. He had two birdies and two bogeys on a day when he said that chipping and putting helped him finish second overall, three strokes behind boys’ individual medalist Seth Crawford of Sullivan South.

“When you hit in the wet stuff, you get so much mud on the golf ball,” Schaff said. “You just have to hit fairways and greens and go on. You can’t get too upset when you hit a bogey. You can go to the pin easier in some ways than when it’s dry. Sometimes here when it’s dry it will take a roll you don’t want it too.”

For Schaff, it helped to play on his home course. He knew which holes he could attack and the ones where he needed to lay up.

“Some holes I tried to really play aggressive,” Schaff said. “Some of them had really easy pins. Some of them were ones if you could make it to a good spot on the green, it would make it a whole lot easier.”

The wet conditions actually worked to Crawford’s favor.

Crawford was the only golfer to beat par with his 3-under 69. His efforts led Sullivan South to the team title 299-336 over runner-up University High. Sullivan East finished with a 340 to also advance as a team to the regional round.

South coach Anthony Richardson told his team to be prepared for the rain and Crawford brought a different mindset to the course on Tuesday. He liked how the wet ground allowed him to think about each shot and how it helped him be able to be more aggressive on the green.

“I like to play in the rain better than I like to play in the dry,” Crawford said. “You really concentrate more and you take more time. It helped me hit some better wedge shots. You can definitely take advantage of it when you’re putting too. Hitting the ball by the hole doesn’t affect you that much because you can be more aggressive coming back down the slopes.”

Sean Hsu shot an 81 to lead University High to the team runner-up. Dominick Haynes added an 82, followed by Will Hampton with an 84 and Luke Wexler with an 89. Jacob Harmon also played for the Bucs, although his score didn’t count towards the team total.

“I’m really proud of our guys, how they battled through the elements,” University High coach Justin Penley said. “They had to sit through a weather delay, but were able to go back out and finish strong. We feel pretty good today and hopefully we can continue to build on this. We’ve had a lot of contributions from different kids throughout the course of the season.”

Nathan Norris of Hampton, Zane Potter of North Greene, Andrew Susong of South Greene and Nathan Kyte of Happy Valley joined Schaff as boys’ individual qualifiers.

South’s Kaitlyn Grills shot a 77 to take individual medalist in the girls’ competition. But, Sullivan East with an 82 from Holly Hamilton and a 90 from McKayla Torbett edged the Lady Rebels 172-175 for the team championship.

Grills, a senior at South, called Elizabethton her favorite course. Like Crawford and the boys, she was determined not to let the conditions get the best of her.

“I was just trying to keep the ball in play and have fun with it,” Grills said. “I was swinging, not worrying about the weather and focusing on that. You can’t let the weather totally shut you down. You have to keep moving on. You just do your best and drive through it.”

The Hampton duo of Hannah Brummitt and Savanna Weddle finished third in the team standings with a 186 to qualify for regionals.

“Tournament time, it’s all about advancing and now we’re advancing to the region,” Hampton coach Wayne Ellis said. “We haven’t played in much weather like that, but I’m not using that as an excuse because everybody played in the rain. It affected everybody because the scores were much higher than anticipated.”

Happy Valley had two girls, Lauren Cline and Hannah Younce, qualify for the regionals as individuals. Other individual qualifiers were Bailey Montgomery of Elizabethton, Mattie Janutolo of University High and Alana Peel of Unicoi County.

The Region 1-A/AA championships will be held next Monday at Elizabethton Golf Course.

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