ELIZABETHTON — The University High and Hampton boys’ golf teams split wins during the regular season. So, it was little surprise when the Bucs won Monday’s District 1, Smaller Schools Championship at Elizabethton Golf Course by just a single stroke (353-354) over the Bulldogs.
With all eyes on the Bulldogs No. 4 player at the 18th green, it was literally a game of inches when his 15-foot putt rolled slightly to the right of the hole. The UH girls made it a sweep with a 178-201 win over Hampton’s girls on a day when players faced a pestering rain and steady wind that picked up over the final holes.
“Obviously, I’m proud of our boys and girls for taking home district championships today,” UH coach Justin Penley said. “To see how these kids have worked hard throughout the summer on their own time, working on their game, sometimes it comes down to just a stroke here or there. Hampton has a strong squad and it wasn’t favorable weather conditions for either team. Fortunately, we were able to make one more shot at the end and come out on top.”
Freshman Daxx Carr posted the Bucs’ low score with an 87, followed by Charlie Vargo with an 88 and a pair of 89s from Sean Hsu and Colin Daniel. Vijay Ananthula finished with a 100, which did not count towards the team total.
Mitchell Tolley had the low round for Hampton with a 79 and No. 2 player Gavin Hardin added an 82. But, the Bulldogs came up just short with a 94 from Dru Owens and a 99 from Izaak Hill. Mibby Hughes posted a 103, which didn’t count for the team score.
“That’s the way the ball bounces,” Hampton coach Wayne Ellis Jr. said. “They had one less putt than we did today. It was such a close match and one stroke could have gone either way. Mitchell Tolley and Gavin Hardin had great rounds where they shot 30s on the back nine. We were eight strokes down after nine (holes), and to come back and miss it by just one, that was a great effort.”
Johnson County finished third at 428 as the top three teams and top-five individuals outside of those teams qualified for next Monday’s Region 1 meet, also to be held at Elizabethton Golf Course.
Reise Stout led the Longhorns with an 89. Jaden Joiner and Gavin Reece each finished with 109, while Petie Pavusek had a 121 to round out the Johnson County scoring.
Ananius Bonin of Chuckey-Doak rolled to the boys’ individual title with a 4-under 68. He shot even par on the front nine and then had a 32 on the back nine.
Other individuals who qualified for next week’s region meet include: Luke Deakins of Happy Valley, Caleb Lister of Chuckey-Doak and Sullivan North’s Jacob Cross and Justin Cross.
The UH girls were led by Mattie Janutolo, who repeated as individual medalist. She shot a 44 on the front nine and a 38 on the back in her winning round of 82. She said the match was won by embracing the challenge of greens which had just been aerified a week earlier. She finished eight strokes ahead of runner-up Hannah Younce of Happy Valley.
“I had my putter going on, especially on the back nine,” she said. “I rolled in some medium to long putts. With the greens being aerified, they were tough. I like the greens smooth, but when they’re like that, it’s challenging and testing your abilities, and that makes it fun.”
Her score combined with a 96 by Abby Benton gave the University High girls a 178-201 win over the Hampton duo of Tala Pierce and Kaysi Royston. Caroline Gamble also competed for the Lady Bucs with her 99 the fifth-best score among individuals.
Happy Valley’s team of Younce, Bailey Hall and Hannah Hyder finished third as a team. Unaka’s Madison Ensor, Sydney Markland and Corie Schuettler all qualified for the regionals as individuals.