Saints punch ticket to state championship tourney
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 4, 2010 1:47 PM
MACCLESFIELD -- Lance White never imagined his score on an unfamiliar course would prove critical and provide a historical moment in Southern Wayne golf history.
But it did.
As golfers signed their cards and tournament officials posted the scores, White and his Saints teammates watched the team leaderboard with anticipation during the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A men's eastern golf regional Monday afternoon. They expected perennial powers Wilson Fike and West Carteret to clinch two of the three team berths available for the state tournament.
Could Southern Wayne sneak in?
"I felt like if we played good, we had a chance," said Saints head coach Jeremy Joyner. "I felt like we had just as good a team as anybody in the regional outside Fike and West Carteret."
White stood quietly.
"I knew it was going to be close," said the sophomore.
Southern Nash tied Southern Wayne for third overall with a four-player total of 345. However, White had the fifth-lowest individual score -- 11 strokes better than the Firebirds' Greg Ellington, and that clinched the Saints' first-ever trip to the state championship.
"I about cried," said White. "It's huge for the team and is an unreal experience."
Will Bunch paced the Saints with an 82, while freshman Kyle Best collected an 83. Jeremiah Wright and John Graham recorded scores of 88 and 92, respectively.
Joyner heaved a big sigh of relief.
"How about my man Lance White?" said a grinning Joyner. "Usually the fifth score doesn't come (into play), and he's probably more happier than anybody you can imagine. I'm happy for him and I'm tickled for the rest of the guys."
Fike captured its eighth regional championship in the past 10 years with a 305. The Golden Demons' Spencer Whitt shot a regional-low 34 on the back nine and finished tied with Nash Central senior Nathan Johnson at 1-over-par 72. Whitt defeated Johnson in a two-hole playoff for medalist honors.
Triton's Chris Sherrod topped West Brunswick's Greg Hensley in a three-hole playoff, and claimed the third individual spot for next week's state tournament. Johnson and South Brunswick's Richard Weinacht also advanced.
West Carteret took second in team competition with a 317.
Overall, just 19 of the 84 golfers fashioned a round in the 80s in overcast, breezy conditions. A mere four golfers shot in the 70s.
Senior Ryan Lake and Caleb Jones ended up with identical 84s for Eastern Wayne, which tied Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference champion Triton for sixth in the 11-team field. Senior Keith Gregorcyk shot an 88, while Hidematsu Sueki collected a 97.
"It's like any other course," said Warriors head coach Scott Waller, whose team put a 353 on the board. "If you put it in the middle of the fairway, you're not going to get hurt. This course can bite you, though. Once you get in trouble, you're in trouble.
"The pin placements looked tough, but everyone has to play the same pin."
Aycock's Dylan Mitchell shot a 94, while teammate Michael Fearney ended up with a 96.
"It wasn't their best game today, but a learning experience," said Golden Falcons head coach Sheila Covar. "They had an off day."
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