Defending state champion Hilltoppers win Region 1 golf tournament

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Oct 7, 2019 at 7:12 PM

MORRISTOWN — The Science Hill boys’ golf team is heading back to Manchester with a goal to defend their state championship.

The Hilltoppers took a 299-318 win over runner-up Greeneville in Monday’s Region 1 Large Schools golf tournament at The Country Club of Morristown to qualify for next week’s state tournament.

Senior Jackson Skeen led the way with an even-par 72. Tarun Hoskere was next with a 75, followed by a pair of 76s for Carter Counts and Jacob Oakley. It was a rock-solid day for the ’Toppers with a 77 by Ross Boehling not counting towards the team total.

“I can’t say enough about this group,” Science Hill coach Kevin Vannoy said. “The senior group has made it to the state tournament four years in a row. We’re so blessed to have great kids and I’m so proud of them.

“Jackson has been what he’s been for four years. Tarun is a grinder who gets it done when he puts his mind to it. Carter is the same way and I’m so proud of Boehling and Oakley with how they’ve played. Being seniors and filling the shoes, they’ve had to fill, I’m tickled with what they’ve done. I watched Jacob today and he never lost his cool and managed the course. The rest did that too. Posting our high score as a 77 today, that’s awesome on a course that plays hard.”

Skeen’s round of 72 included four birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey. He was off the pace for the individual title by just one stroke

“It was a grind today,” Skeen said. “The greens were receptive today and it made chipping a little different, but I got used to it. I was chipping a lot so that was good.”

He talked about going back to the state tournament at WillowBrook Golf Course in Manchester with a chance to defend both individual and team championships.

“It will be weird this year defending two titles, but it will be a lot of fun,” he said. “I really like that course. This is my fourth year playing that course and I know it well.”

Sophomores Jon Wes Lovelace of Volunteer and Seth Robinette of Sullivan Central edged Skeen for individual honors as both finished with a 1-under 71. They faced off in a playoff which Lovelace won after chipping onto the green on the par-five No. 1 hole and then leaving his eagle putt next to the hole for a tap-in.

Tennessee High’s Jack Tickle, who finished with a 1-over 73 for 18 holes, took the final individual qualifier by chipping in an eagle on the first playoff hole to beat Dobyns-Bennett’s Taylor Kilgore.

Elizabethton’s Carson Peters was three strokes off with a 4-over 76. Daniel Boone had three golfers — Aidan Hyder, Noah Little and John Hale — finish with rounds in the eighties.


Dobyns-Bennett senior Isabella van der Biest was back on top of the girls’ standings after coming up just short for the conference and district titles. The defending state individual champion had an eagle on hole No. 10 and three other birdies and survived four bogeys.

“It feels good to finally get the job done,” she said. “It means a lot to win the region and it’s good to go into the state tournament with some momentum. It was an up-and-down round and the course played a little different once it started raining. I had two bogeys in a row and it messed me up a little bit. I had to forget about them and put them out of my mind.”

Tennessee High, led by the twin sister duo of Isabella and Noelia Adkins, won the team title 145-165 over Sullivan South. Isabella Adkins had a 72, followed by her sister’s 73. Madeline Simcox added a 75 which didn’t county towards the team total, which was a new school record

Sullivan South’s Kara Carter, who swept conference and district crowns, finished with a 4-over 76 to qualify for the state as an individual. Kirstyn Moore added an 89 for the Lady Rebels with Erin Musick with a 94.

Dobyns-Bennett finished third. Erin Colhoun shot a 96 and Natalie Seal had a 111 round.

Neely Yates of Grainger earned the final individual qualifier with a 79. Among the individuals who missed the cut were Mackenzie Miller of Daniel Boone with an 87, Grace Smith of Science Hill with a 90 and Elsie Lunsford of Daniel Boone with a 93.

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