The Hilltoppers, who are looking for the fourth state championship in school history, shot a 3-over 291 in the first round to lead by 13 strokes over nearest opponent Farragut. Coffee County is currently third in the team standings, 18 strokes back at 21-over.
Jackson Skeen led the way for Science Hill. He had three birdies to post a 1-over 71 and tie Lance Simpson of Farragut for the overall lead.
Science Hill’s Sean Anderson is tied for third individually, just one stroke back with an even-par 72. Gavin Nickels is tied for ninth at 1-over 73. Anderson and Nickels each had three birdies during their respective rounds.
The fourth Science Hill score to count was a 3-over 75 by Tarun Hoskere. The Hilltoppers’ Carter Counts fired a 10-over 82 in the first round, which didn’t count toward the team total.
“Our kids battled. What do you say about the seniors, Sean Anderson and Gavin Nickels,” Science Hill coach Kevin Vannoy said by phone. “Sean went out first and set the tone and Gavin had a good round of 73. Jackson has led us all year and he doesn’t get enough credit. Then, Tarun to shoot a 75 that was pivotal. Carter was the high guy today, but we’ve been consistent as a team.
“We’ve had the ability as a team if one individual goes higher, then the other kids pick it up. We’re only halfway done and have to stay focused. Thirteen strokes might seem like a lot, but that’s not a bunch in team golf. We’re preparing tonight to play another 18 holes and hoping we can replicate something like we did today.”
Among other local individuals, Jack Tickle of Tennessee High finished with a 5-over 77 and John Wes Lovelace of Volunteer shot an 11-over 83.
LEAD FOR ISABELLA
Dobyns-Bennett’s Isabella van der Biest leads the girls’ individual competition with a 5-under 67. Her first-day score is tied for the eighth lowest in state tournament history. She is one stroke ahead of Lynn Lim of Station Camp.
Her teammate, Katerina Scott, posted a first-round 84. As a team, the Lady Indians rank third at 7-over. They trail Station Camp by five strokes and are just one stroke behind second-place Houston.
Kara Carter of Sullivan South had a first-round score of a 4-over 76 to rank 10th individually.
Play is scheduled to resume Wednesday at 9 a.m.