ELIZABETHTON — Posting the lowest score on record at the District 1-A/AA golf tournament, Happy Valley cruised to its second title in three years on Monday at Elizabethton Golf Course.
With the top three individuals and four of the top five, the Warriors posted a team score of 292 to beat runner-up Elizabethton by 44 strokes.
Led by indivdual champion Michaela Matheson, Hampton defeated Happy Valley 88-92 for the girls’ title.
As good of a day as it was for the HV boys, who ended up just 4-over-par as a team, head coach Randy Ross said it could have been even better.
“Our kids played up to their potential today and we had a great round,” Ross said. “I think we’re capable of doing a little better. Our goal at the first of the year was to break 300, but we’ve adjusted that and now our goal is to shoot even par. That’s a goal next week for the region.”
Happy Valley junior Cameron Dugger shot a 69 to beat teammate teammate Colton Oakes by two strokes for his second individual title. Nick Kyte placed third with a 72 after leading with just three holes left.
Joseph Matherly, fifth among the individuals, totaled an 80, while Drew Burker’s added an 83, which didn’t count toward the team total.
Dugger used four birdies on the back nine to shoot 32 and pass Kyte for the individual title.
“I pretty much knew where Nick was the whole day,” Dugger said. “We’re always in a friendly competition, so I knew going into the back nine I needed to make something happen. I made four birdies to get below 70.
“My iron striking was really good today. I didn’t miss too many greens at all. My putting could have been better, but it was there when I needed it.”
Elizabethton’s second-place effort of 336 would have been seven strokes lower, but Brad Barker was disqualified for not getting two signatures on his scorecard.
While it ended up not hurting Barker or the rest of the Cyclones’ squad, it was devastating for University High, which had both Connor Bartow and John Crowe disqualified for the same infraction.
It meant the Junior Bucs fell from third place to their team score not even counting. It was particularly disappointing for Bartow, who posted the fourth-best round as an individual.
“It’s unfortunate for our guys,” UH head coach Justin Penley said. “But the rule is in place for a reason and you can’t selectively enforce rules.
“It’s an important life lesson for our two guys. It’s how you react to adversity that counts. Those guys have an opportunity to show their character. It’s especially important for Connor to use this as motivation and to come back stronger next season. I especially hate it for John since he’s a senior. I know it’s not the way he envisioned his season ending, but they understand the rules and how the details are important.”
The lone bright spot for the Junior Bucs was that Stephen Bartow and Nick Sewell still qualified for next week’s Region 1-A/AA tournament as individuals.
Sullivan East with a score of 347 ended up the third-place team, while Josh Taylor of Hampton, Dale Edwards of Unicoi County and Blade Hampton of Johnson County also qualified as individuals.
Matheson, only a sophomore, blew away the competition on the girls’ side, going 1-over through nine holes to win by seven strokes.
“I had 13 putts today and I knew when I got on the green, I needed to make pars,” Matheson said. “I doubled the first hole, but parred out the rest of the way. I was proud of myself for doing that.”
Besides Matheson, Hannah Irick shot a 51 and Miranda Anderson added a 52, as the Lady Bulldogs held off Happy Valley’s Nicole Campbell and Brittany Ollis for the win. Elizabethon’s trio of Madison Campbell, Karter Geagley and Kalee Holdren placed third, seven strokes back at 95.
“I was proud of my teammates. I thought they played well,” Matheson said. “We won this tournament last year, so it’s two years in a row winning the district.”
Maggie Hartzell and Heavenly Shelton of Unicoi County, along with Haley Bradshaw, Carolee Mabe and Lindsey Wheeler of University High earned individual berths for next Monday’s regional tournament which is also to be held at Elizabethton.