04/24/12 — ECC 3-A Golf Championships

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ECC 3-A Golf Championships

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 24, 2012 1:48 PM

The playing conditions weren't ideal.

A cold wind.

Intermittent rain showers that chilled you to the bone.

Somehow, Caleb Jones and Kyle Best kept their focus on a soggy Goldsboro Municipal Golf Course on Monday afternoon. Jones carded a 1-over par 73 and dethroned Best as the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference men's golf player-of-the-year in the final match of the season.

Best finished with a 74.

"It's great," Jones said of the ECC honor. "I've worked hard all year. I've had a couple of bad rounds, but I made it up with better ones like last week at Lane Tree (69). I made up a lot of ground with that."

Southern Wayne fired a season-best 327 in ECC play and successfully defended its team championship. Julian Mitchell complemented Best's effort with an 18-hole round of 77. Teammates Jonathan Barrow and Austin Smith turned in scores of 85 and 91, respectively.

"I'm tickled to death," Saints head coach Jeremy Joyner, who was named the ECC coach-of-the-year, said. "We lost three of our top four players from last year. A lot of my guys have been working and it paid off. They wanted it and they earned it."

Jones started the round with a four-stroke advantage over Best. Each player birdied their opening hole -- the par-5 ninth. Best eventually shaved two strokes off Jones' lead, but couldn't gain any ground over the final 10 holes.

"I bogeyed a hole that he parred, and that kind of broke my momentum," Best said.

Jones posted birdies on Nos. 4 and 6.

"I turned it around on the front (nine), played better and got my mind back in the game," Jones said. "Kyle hit some bad shots and I took advantage of it."

Charles B. Aycock and Eastern Wayne also shot ECC-best team rounds of 340 and 344, respectively. The Saints, Golden Falcons and Warriors qualified for the N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern 3-A regional at Birchwood CC in Nashville on May 7.

Dylan Mitchell and Battle Burnette logged identical 81s for Aycock. Teammates Julian Billhardt and Matt Ivey completed the team's four-player score with an 85 and 93, respectively.

"(We) didn't see that one coming," CBA head coach Sheila Covar said of the team's regional berth. "I really thought it was a long shot."

Hidematsu Sueki turned in an 85 for the Warriors. Willis Underwood and Ty Schmeltzer collected a 91 and 95, respectively. Teammates Andrew Lockerby and Jacob Sauls also battled the wet course.

Triton entered the day with a comfortable 20-stroke lead over Aycock, but shot a season-worst 376 in ECC play and finished a disappointing fourth in the team standings. The Hawks' threesome of Matt and Cory Ammons, and John Stewert qualified as individuals for the one-day regional.

North Lenoir's Alex Brownlee also earned a trip to Birchwood.