Although it seems like the school year has just started, the postseason for fall sports is now on our doorstep.
The first sport to step into the limelight is golf with regional play getting under way all around the state of West Virginia Monday.
Each golf team consists of four players with the top three scores used to for the total team score. The top two teams in each region, per class, will qualify for the state tournament along with the top two individual scores not on the winning teams.
The State Tournament will be played on the Speidel Golf Course at Oglebay Park in Wheeling, Oct. 4-5. The tournament is two-day, 36-hole stroke play event.
Area teams from southern West Virginia will compete in the Region 3 tournament respective to their classes. Class AAA will be played at Edgewood Country Club, while Class AA will battle at Big Bend Golf Course in Tornado. The small schools hold their regional tournament at Pipestem State Park.
George Washington is the reigning Class AAA state champions and will again be the team to beat at the regional tournament.
The Patriots finished second last week at the Mountain State Athletic Conference tournament won by state title contender Cabell Midland.
Mario Polumbo and Austin Willard were named to the all-tournament team for George Washington and will be the anchors for the Patriots at regionals.
Greenbrier East and Woodrow Wilson will be solid contenders for a state tournament berth with a regional title not out of the question.
The Spartans have been a bit of a surprise this year after getting hit by graduation last year.
Greenbrier East topped Woodrow, Oak Hill and Princeton at the Coalfield Conference tournament played on the Cobb Course at Glade Springs a little over a week ago and has played well enough to be regional contenders this year.
“Two months ago if you had ask me how we were going to do this year, I would have had no clue,” Greenbrier East head coach Doug Bicksler said. “Now we are looking pretty strong. One boy that didn’t play last year, came out this year and has been one of our top players. Then we had another player that has only been playing for a couple of years. He didn’t play last year, but he has been playing well for us. It’s been surprisingly good.”
Anthony Rodney Lemons, knows as Arod, has jumped to the top of the heap for Greenbrier East, followed by junior Jake Honaker to give the Spartans a solid 1-2 punch.
“Arod has been consistently our No.1 player and it is his first year playing on the team. He is new to golf and has only played for a couple of years. He is just a really good athlete and has taken to the game and plays all the time,” Bicksler said. “Jake is what I like to call our 1-A. He is a junior and been on the team for three years. This year he has been 100 percent committed and is really been playing lights out.”
Sophomore Isaac Cantrell has played his way into the No. 3 position for East after starting the season as the Spartans’ sixth best player. Fielding Foster has played in the No, 4 spot, followed closely by Tristan Van Buren.
Although his team has played well this year, the lack of postseason experience is a concern for Bicksler.
“Tristan was an alternate two years ago and Fielding went to regional last year as an alternate. They have seen it, but none have played in the regional tournament,” Bicksler said. “It is a little concerning, but I have been encouraged this year because we have played well in our 18-hole matches.”
Jonah Wilson from Woodrow Wilson was the low medalist for Class AAA at the Coalfield Conference and has been playing his best golf heading into regionals.
Wilson is joined by Ian Thompson, Alley Denny and Blake Nixon who have all played well this year.
“We have our three returners that have been our foundation,” first year head coach William York. “They have played really solid this year. We will need a break here or there, but that is how golf goes. We have the players and the discipline to do if the nerves don’t get to them.”
Oak Hill has a young team this year, but Ian Maynor will be a strong contender for an individual spot in the state tournament.
Class AA will be a grind to the final stroke with Shady Spring, Nicholas County and Herbert Hoover all capable of bringing home the regional championship plaque.
The Tigers finished runner-up in the Region 3 tournament last year and third overall at the state tournament. Head coach Greg Daniel has been adamant that his team is looking to rid that bad taste from their mounts this year.
Senior Tanner Vest leads the Tigers and is a strong contender for the individual title after finishing second last year. Vest was the overall low medalist at the Coalfield Conference Tournament and was the only player to shoot under par.
Shady also seems to be playing its best golf at just the right time. Zach Smith has hit his stride of late and Tyler Beard and Cooper Ward have been extremely poised in their freshman season as well.
Ben Marsh punched his ticket to Wheeling last year as an individual and now he hopes to lead the Grizzlies north as a team.
Sophomore Maddox Smallwood played well at the Coalfield Conference tournament and will need to continue that trend at regionals for Nicholas to have a chance to slip past the Huskies or the Tigers.
Cole Brown and Braden Brown are more than capable of a strong score to help send the Grizzlies to the state tournament.
Herbert Hoover is the defending Class AA state champions and have all but one player back from that team. Seniors Max Bowen, Sawyer Osbourn and Sam Phillips, along with junior Noah Sargent are all battle tested.
The individual race for the two available spots will also be a battle to the last hole.
Kerri-Anne Cook from Westside have proven herself to be one of the top players in the state and Cody Blake from Independence has shown this season he can go low and play his way to Wheeling.
Summers County has dominated Region 3 in Class A this year and the tournament will be played on its home course Monday.
The Bobcats have four solid players and they are all underclassmen.
Sean Cooper earned low medalist honors in the Class A division at the Coalfield Conference tournament and shot 78 at the Dave Hicks Memorial Tournament this past Monday.
Cooper is flanked by his twin brother Brian Cooper, Xavier Honaker and Marshall Legg.
The battle for second place will be a tense battle between Charleston Catholic, Midland Trail, James Monroe, Pocahontas County and Webster County.
Andrew Addair from River View is a name to watch in the individual battle along with Evan Hunter and Bannon Goodman from James Monroe if the Mavs do not qualify as a team. Webster County basketball standout Sydney Baird could also play her way to the big dance.