University High's Nick Sewell shot 70 to qualify for the Region tournament
ELIZABETHTON — Cayman Ratliff shot a tournament-record 64 to lead Sullivan South to an overwhelming victory in Monday’s District 1-A/AA golf championships at Elizabethton Golf Course.
The Rebels senior was tied with Nick Sewell of University High after nine holes, but pulled away by going 5-under on the back nine. As a team, the Rebels took a 281-335 win over Johnson County and Elizabethton, who tied for the runner-up spot.
The Longhorns defeated the Cyclones on the first hole of a playoff to take second-place honors. It was Johnson County’s best finish in the district since winning the tournament in 2007.
Longhorns head coach Steve Arnold applauded the consistent play of his team with their scores hitting their average. Nathan Timbs led the way with a 76. Brandon Vannoy and Morgan Eggers both scored 86, with Nathaniel Graybeal and Blade Hampton hitting 87 and 90, respectively.
“They shot their average,” Arnold said. “They’ve been one stroke above or below their average all year. You beat Elizabethton on their home course and it’s a feat in itself. They stayed loose all day long like they have all year, no speech needed.”
Before the playoff, Elizabethton had 83s from Conley Bowers and Carson Biggs. Christofer Schaff posted an 84, followed by Luke Hughes with an 85 and Nathan Norris with an 87.
South also won the girls’ title 151-160 over Hampton. Elizabethton at 182 was the other team to qualify for next week’s Region 1-A/AA championships
For Ratliff winning the boys’ individual crown, everything from the tee to the green worked during his 8-under round.
“I hit a lot of fairways and kept it out of trouble,” Ratliff said. “I tried to stay within myself and hit fairways, but I was hitting my driver as straight as anything else. Then, I hit all the little chips 60 degrees upon the green.
“I was hitting my wedge great and making a lot of six and seven-foot putts. I play at Warriors Path a lot and I practice wedge shots all day. If you put me at a place where there are a lot of wedge shots like this, I’m probably going to hit a lot of good ones.”
Sewell finished third with a 70, six strokes behind Ratliff and one stroke behind South’s Ross Miller for the runner-up spot. Sewell wasn’t surprised to see Ratliff’s low score, but focused on his own game to qualify for next Monday’s Region 1-A/AA tournament.
“I saw we were tied at the turn, but I knew when he knew that, he would shoot real low on the back,” Sewell said. “I just had to take care of what I could do. I was striking the ball great and that gave me a lot of opportunities to make birdies. If I didn’t make the birdie putt, I just tried to two-putt.”
Sewell was one of five individuals to qualify along with Josh Taylor of Hampton, Anthony Vanhoy of Sullivan East, and Zach Carter and Nathan Kyte of Happy Valley.
On the girls’ side, Allyson Dunn shot a 71 and combined with an 80 by Kaitlyn Grills, it gave South the clean sweep of the team and individual titles.
Dunn won by two strokes over Hampton’s Michaela Matheson for individual medalist.
“I hit the ball really well today,” Dunn said. “The last hole, it was the only bad tee shot I hit. It was a good match with Michaela all through the day. It was a lot of energy going back and forth. When she would make a birdie, it would switch the momentum. But, I try not to pay too much attention to whom I’m playing with and try to lower my own score. She made some clutch putts and I enjoyed playing with her. I’m looking to playing her next week too.”
Matheson was equally pleased to take part in the showdown. She was 1-over for the day, a score she usually would be pleased to take to the clubhouse.
“She’s an exceptional player and I’m glad I got to play with her,” Matheson said. “I knew going in, that was the girl I needed to beat. We were tied after nine (holes), but I made a dumb double bogey on No. 3 that really put me back. Going into the day id you would have told me I would shoot a 73, I would take it. I’m not happy with it right now, but I will take it.”
Kaitlin Irick added an 87 for Hampton, while her twin sister, Hannah added a 90 which didn’t count for the team total.
Elizabethon had 91 from both Madison Campbell and Jamie Hinkle, and a 98 from Karter Geagley.
Happy Valley’s Autumn Bergandahl and Lauren Cline, as well as Unicoi County’s Heavenly Shelton, North Greene’s Mendy McNeese qualified as individuals for the Region 1 tournament also to be held at Elizabethton.