The Coalfield Conference Golf Tournament did not provide any surprises Monday.
However, with regional play just two weeks out, playing a tournament on the prestigious Cobb Course at Glade Springs did give local high school golfers a valuable 18-hole postseason tune-up.
Shady Spring golfer Tanner Vest, who has seen his fair share of regional and state tournament action over his career, was thrilled to get an early feel for the postseason.
“This is awesome. A huge thanks to (Liberty athletic director) Jimmy Workman and the guys at the Coalfield Conference for putting this on. It was an atmosphere similar to regionals and even states which gives you that little bit of extra pressure and I thought this was ran terrifically.”
After finishing runner-up in the Class AA individual competition last year and playing on the Tigers’ state championship team two years ago, Vest proved Monday that he is ready to make a run at both titles this year
Firing the only sub-par round of the tournament, the senior standout shot 69 to take home the overall low medalist and Class AA low medalist honors. All the while leading Shady Spring to first place in the Class AA team competition.
Joining Vest for the Tigers were Zach Smith (83), Tyler Beard (86) and Cooper Ward (91).
“We had a couple of kids play better today than they have been playing, but we still have a long ways to go,” Shady Spring head coach Greg Daniel said. “These are all important events, but I tell them, we still have one goal that we need to keep working on and we need to get better every day.”
Although he logged a pair of bogeys on the final two holes of the day, Vest was pleased with his round fighting through the rain and damp conditions.
“It is a little disappointing to finish that way, but it is always good to put a good number out there like that,” Vest said. “It feels good for the team and feels good for me. The game-plan today was to just play smart. If I play my game, I know putts are going to fall. I stuck to the game plan and it turned out well.”
After making birdies on holes five and seven on the front, Vest faced a tough up-and-down at No. 11 to keep his momentum going.
“You have to place the ball there and I didn’t off the tee. I was in the rough and hit a bad (approach) shot. I was lucky to get over the water really,” Vest said. “I didn’t hit my best chip, but I got it on the green and gave myself a chance. I made the par (putt) and it was a big momentum shifter.”
Riding the momentum of the par save, Vest went to the par-5 12th hole looking to go even lower on his round. Following a tee shot that was just off the fairway in the rough, Vest hit a beautiful approach shot to set-up a make-able eagle chance.
“It was the prefect (yardage) for a six-iron and I just knew it was going to be close. I had a ten-footer up hill. It was perfect,” Vest said.
The eagle sent him to four-under for the day, but he had one more birdie in him at the par-3 13th hole.
“After making a couple of good putts in a row, I was like, why not make this one,” Vest said.
While bogey is not his desired score, the one he made on No. 17 was a stroke-saver, but the bogey on the par-5 18th hole left him a little frustrated.
“I was not really upset with that bogey on 17. The pin placement is as hard as it can be and bogey was not a bad score,” Vest said. “I hit an errant tee-shot on 18. Standing on the tee, you feel like you can go for the green in two (shots), but I couldn’t do that. Then I hit two more bad shots on top of that. It was a frustrating way to end a good round.”
Greenbrier East won the Class AAA portion, with Jonah Wilson from Woodrow Wilson taking home low medalist honors. Arod Lemon and Jake Honaker each shot 77 to lead the Spartans. Isaac Cantrell had 85 and Fielding Foster shot 101.
Summers County had an impressive day on its way to capturing the Class A crown. Sean Cooper was low medalist with a round of 80, while hist teammates recorded the next three lowest scores in the Class A field.
Brian Cooper had 84, Marshall Legg shot 85 and Xavier Honaker had 88 for the Bobcats.
The Spartans have been red-hot this season, but head coach Doug Bicksler wanted to see how his team would fair in an 18-hole tournament style match.
“It was not too bad today. We will take it,” Bicksler said. “We would like to have had all four scores down in the 80’s, but we will take the three we got. The weather changed on us about four times. It would have been nice to have the sun all day, but they responded pretty well to it.”
Another positive for Bicksler was his team’s mindset after the win Monday.
“I actually have four guys that are upset with their scores right now, so I am hoping that fuels them for the postseason,” Bicksler said.
Outside of few putting woes on the day, Wilson came home with a solid round of 74 for best amongst the big schools.
“I struck the ball with the irons pretty well today, but I missed about four three-footers,” Wilson said. “I had one bad hole today and it came early. I took it as a challenge to get it back throughout the day. I worried about things shot by shot, instead of my total score, which has been a big factor lately.”
Summers County head man Jerod Ewing has not been shy on his team’s chances to make a return trip to Wheeling for the state tournament. It was easy to see why Ewing has been confident in his young team after Monday’s action.
Playing on a course which they were not overly familiar with, the Bobcats all shot rounds of 88 or better and had the third best team score overall, regardless of class.
“I think the way they played today pretty much validated things. I saw a lot of really good shots and birdies today. They made putts and on a course like this and that is huge,” Ewing said. “They did a great job with the tournament here and everything was ran great. It was good experience and playing an 18-hole match was a big key for us.”
Cooper started fast with a birdie on the first hole and had a make-able putt for a 79 on his final hole, but could not get the putt to drop.
“I started out good. I hit a great drive and my pitching wedge (approach) was like two-feet away,” Cooper said. “I am happy. The best thing I did today was putt. The greens were rolling really true. My irons weren’t bad at all either. I hate that I didn’t make that last putt, but that’s golf.”
Woodrow Wilson was second in Class AAA, while Nicholas County was runner-up in AA and Midland Trail finished behind Summers in Class A.
Greenbrier East 239, Woodrow Wilson 254, Princeton 290, Oak Hill 305
Shady Spring 238, Nicholas County 254, Independence 279, Liberty 300, Westside 305, Wyoming East 308, PikeView 340
Summers County 249, Midland Trail 302, James Monroe 318, Richwood 324, Greenbrier West 373
Class AAA All-Coalfield Conference
Jonah Wilson, Ian Thompson, Woodrow Wilson, Arod Lemons, Jake Honaker, Isaac Cantrell, Greenbrier East, Dylan Canterbury, Princeton.
Ian Maynor, Tyler Scott, Oak Hill, Blake Nixon, Woodrow Wilson, Fielding Foster, Greenbrier East, Virgil Ellison, Owen Bailey, Princeton.
Class AA All-Coalfield Conference
Tanner Vest, Zach Smith, Shady Spring, Ben Marsh, Maddox Smallwood, Nicholas County, Cody Blake, Independence, Kerri-Anne Cook, Westside
Tyler Beard, Cooper Ward, Shady Spring, Cole Brown, Nicholas County, Clay Basham, Independence,
Landon Hall, Josh Lafferty, Liberty.
Class A All-Coalfield Conference
Sean Cooper, Brian Cooper, Marshall Legg. Xavier Honaker, Summers County, Alex Dempsey, Bo Persinger, Midland Trail.
Cody Harrell, Midland Trail, Peyton Gardinier, Bannon Goodman, Evan Hunter, James Monroe. Josh Dudley, Aiden Miller Richwood .