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Warriors stay hot, capture region title

September 20th, 2011 12:04 am by Jeff Birchfield

ELIZABETHTON — It was quite a week for the Happy Valley golf team.
In a span of a week, the Warriors won their district golf championship, beat Class AAA powers Science Hill and Volunteer in a match and capped it off by winning Monday’s Region 1-A/AA championship at Elizabethton Golf Course.
Nick Kyte led the way with a 71, one stroke behind Greeneville’s Elliott Taliaferro for the individual championship. However, Kyte’s Warriors showed more depth to take a 298-309 victory over the two-time defending champion Greene Devils.
Grainger won the championship on the girls’ side, 165-186 over Hampton.
“My guys played very consistent today,” Happy Valley head coach Randy Ross said. “We had a goal of shooting 300 at the first of the year and came in at 298. I told them I thought it was good enough to get to the state, so it was a great team effort by all of my players.”
Besides Kyte, last week’s district champion Cameron Dugger shot a 75, while Joseph Matherly and Colton Oakes each posted rounds of 76.
Drew Burker, Happy Valley’s No. 5 man, added an 88 which didn’t count toward the team score.
“We started off a little slow today, but this course was set up harder than it was for the district,” said Ross, whose team heads to next week’s state tournament with a 51-4 record. “We played back on the tee boxes, so those scores were good when compared with the district.
“Nick Kyte, he’s our senior and he led us today. He’s been our steadying influence all year long, and he showed that today.”
Kyte talked about a solid performance that included birdies on holes No. 5, 12 and 14. Despite a bogey on No. 17, he was tied for the lead heading into the final hole.
“I wish I would have known where Elliott was at coming in, but I’m happy we won as a team,” Kyte said. “I missed a birdie (putt) on 16, and bogeyed 17, but I’m pretty happy with my day overall.”
Individual qualifiers besides Taliaferro on the boys’ side were Tyler Justice, also of Greeneville, Cory Walker of Elizabethton, Richard Hoskins of Claiborne and Garrett Tucker of Cumberland Gap.
Starting on the back nine, Taliaferro sank a birdie putt on the hole No. 9 to win the individual championship. It was, however, a tough loss for his team, which won 10 of the 12 tournaments it entered and ended with a 48-4 record.
“As it was, that was the biggest putt,” Taliaferro said about the putt on his final hole. “But, it was disappointing not to get back (to state) as a team. That Happy Valley team is really good this year. They’re stacked.
“We knew we were good, but we just came up a little short.”
The Lady Grizzlies cruised to the girls’ title with a 1-2 finish by Kasey Ankrom and Celeste Stratton. Ankrom had an 81, followed by Stratton with an 84.
Michaela Matheson of Hampton, also with an 84, led the individual qualifiers.
“It wasn’t my best round, but it was good enough to make the state tournament,” Matheson said. “I had two out-of-bounds strokes on the front side and that should never happen.
“I played better in the district so I guess my expectations were higher than they should have been. Last year, I shot 120 in the region, so to make the state tournament, I’m happy with it.”
Other individual qualifiers were Grace Gass of Greeneville, Nicole Campbell of Happy Valley and Morgan Payne of Claiborne. Campbell became the first Lady Warrior to make the state tournament since eventual state champion Lisa Phipps in 1991.
The Class A/AA state tournament is next Tuesday and Wednesday at WillowBrook Golf Club in Manchester.

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