Hunt seizes control early in ECC
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on March 10, 2009 1:47 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Uncertainty and cautious optimism hung heavy in the warm spring air during the season-opening, Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference men's golf match at Southern Wayne Country Club on Monday afternoon.
Defending champion Wilson Hunt grabbed a firm hold in the team standings with a four-player total of 332. Paul Howell emerged the medalist with an even-par 71.
Thirteen strokes separated the next four teams.
Southern Wayne finished second with 353, followed by Eastern Wayne (355), Kinston (361) and Wilson Beddingfield (366). Charles B. Aycock did not have enough golfers participate to record a team score.
"I think we have some room for improvement, but for the first match I am pretty proud of how my guys played," said first-year Southern Wayne head coach Jeremy Joyner. "We had some big numbers on the first few holes, but my guys battled on the back nine."
John Graham and Chris Best each fired an 18-hole score of 85 for the Saints. Will Bunch added a 91, while Robert Herring shot a 92.
Eastern Wayne, the 2008 ECC runner-up, struggled in the breezy conditions. Ryan Lake posted an 82, but the next-best scores were identical 91s submitted by Carson Daly and Matt Baker. Caleb Jones contributed a 92.
"We have a couple of guys that I know are capable of shooting better numbers than they did today," said first-year Warriors' head coach Scott Waller. "But looking at the scores, I think we kept up pretty well with the other teams and the first match is always tough."
C.P. Cranford led Aycock with an 81. Teammate Chase Parnell notched a 101.
After freezing temperatures kept teams off their respective courses for much of last week, each coach was interested in how their players would react to conference competition.
"Last week we had two matches snowed out and couldn't even get on the course to practice for three days," said Joyner. "With only a couple weeks of course time, it's hard to speculate how a team will come out."
Hunt will host the next ECC match Monday at Happy Valley CC.
"I don't know if any of my guys have even seen that course before," said Waller. "Hopefully today's experience will help us as we keep getting better and try to improve our position as a team."
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