The action was as hot as the temperature for the final match before next week’s District 5-AAA Tournament, as Walker Valley was able to edge McMinn County by a stroke and East Hamilton by three Wednesday at the Chatata Valley Golf Club.
“McMinn has been our toughest competition in the district for many years, and then you add in East Hamilton which played in the state tournament last year, and that made for an exciting match,” declared head coach Bob Williams as his Mustangs improved to 14-1 on the season, with their lone loss coming to McCallie.
“We’ve played them four times now and it’s been a single-digit difference each time,” expressed Cherokee coach Jerry Quirk. “We just haven’t been able to get past them.”
In the girls’ action the Lady Mustangs wrapped up the regular season with their 13th straight victory, slipping past the Tribe 86-91, despite not having No. 1 player Katie Bishop, who was gone on a college visit. East Hamilton has just one female player.
Cleveland High also hit the links a day earlier than scheduled and was able to get past Soddy-Daisy by 13 strokes at the site of the 5-AAA tournament.
The 18-hole district tournament will be held Sept. 19 on the Jack Nicklaus designed Bear Trace at Harrison Bay course.
“Bear Trace is a true gold course. It’s beautiful and challenging,” remarked coach Williams. “We played the City Prep, plus we had a couple of matches there the last couple of weeks. You never know what to expect in the district tournament. You have to be at your best to advance.”
The half dozen Walker Valley boys who played Wednesday shot 40 or better, with all four scores that counted toward the team total of 153 in the 30s.
Sophomore Dylan Lillard, as well as juniors Kyle Limberg and Ira Lee posted 2-over-par 38s, while senior Jordan Leggett was right behind with a 39. Senior Garrett Cantrell and sophomore Corey Rollins both carded 40s.
“This was a great way to wrap up the regular season, plus it was the final time Jordan (Leggett) and Garrett (Cantrell) would be playing our home course as members of the team,” related coach Williams. “When you get four scores in the 30s, you’re going to win a lot of matches.”
Tanner Harris led the way for the Tribe with a 1-over 37, while Garrett Webb, Jake Cook and Cody Housley followed with scores of 38, 39 and 40 respectively.
East Hamilton’s Logan Price earned low-medalist honors with a 1-under 35, with Ian Newman adding a 39, with Tucker and Tyson Venable shooting 41s.
In the girls’ play, Walker Valley (13-1) got matching 43s from freshman Kelsey Cassada and sophomore Katie Medley, while senior Kassey Gregg was right on their heels with a 44.
“These three (Cassada, Medley, Gregg) have been so tight all year their scores are only separated by tenths of a point,” praised Williams. “Kassey didn’t get to play much last year, but has really stepped up her game in this her senior year. I’m excited that we have Kelsey and Katie (Medley) back for two and three years, along with some other girls that are showing a lot of promise.”
Lady Cherokee Mason Jewell posted the low score with a 41, while teammate Haley Johnson carded a 50. Lady Hurricane Madalyn Hembree fired a 44.
Raiders roll past Trojans
Cleveland got a season-matching best half round from sophomore Tucker Jones to lead the way for the 155-168 victory. Jones equaled the team-best 1-under-par 35.
“He hit the ball great all day,” stated Raider head coach Nick Cantrell. “He is coming off a 37 at Springbrook earlier in the week. He is playing his best golf of the season right now.”
Senior Conner Caprara helped out the victors with a 1-over 37, while classmate Chris Bryant fired a 41 and younger brother Cade Caprara posted a 42 to round out the CHS scoring.
Brandon Noland paced Soddy with a 40, while Trey Walker shot 41, J. McNamara had a 42 and Trevor Brown a 45.
Cleveland junior Heidi Barringer once again had to play alone due to a teammate’s illness, and shot a 40.