GREENEVILLE — Grainger has built a solid golf tradition since District 2-A/AA was formed five years ago.
Head coach Andy Wells was cautiously optimistic that his squads would add to it as the postseason began at Link Hills Monday. When the afternoon ended, he was more than pleased.
The Grainger girls captured their third straight District 2-A/AA championship – led by the medalist effort of senior Celeste Stratton – and the boys finished runner-up to also advance to next week’s Region 1-AA tournament.
“We had a couple of close matches with the Greeneville girls during the regular season, so we knew it was going to be close,” Wells said.
The Lady Grizzlies ended up edging Greeneville by three strokes on the Lady Devils’ home course. Grainger turned in a total of 164, with Stratton firing an 80 and Kristen Ankrom adding an 84.
Wells was even more pleased with his boys’ tally of 334, which was 10 strokes behind first-place Greeneville.
“I thought coming into today that we needed to shoot around 340 to have a chance of moving on to region,” Wells explained. “And that would have been a good day for us.”
“The boys came up big today…really big.”
The Grizzlies were led by junior Nate Yates’ round of 80, which was good enough for fourth place overall.
Clint Holt added an 82, Nick Diamond an 83, and Andrew Hodge an 89 to make up the team score. Lucas Wear also competed for Grainger and turned in a 96.
“The boys have been up and down this year,” Wells added. “We’ve played really well at our home course, Clinchview, but we’ve struggled a little bit when we’ve went on the road. We knew we’d be in a dog fight to get in the top three.”
“Nate has pretty much been our leader all year. That 80 is a solid score for him.”
For Stratton, it was the second time she had finished atop the leaderboard at the district tournament. She also claimed the individual title as a sophomore.
The Lady Grizzlies will be looking to punch their fourth consecutive ticket to the state tournament next Monday when the Region 1-A/AA event is held at Elizabethton Golf Course.
“I am very pleased with Celeste’s effort today,” Wells said. “As a senior, she came out and did what we needed her to do.”
“When you look at our scores today of 80 and 84, I probably would have taken that before the day started. The rough is pretty thick and it’s already a long course to begin with.”
Baylee Black also competed for the Lady Grizzlies and carded a 112.
The Greeneville boys returned to the top of the district after Chuckey-Doak won the title a year ago.
The Devils were led by the medalist effort of senior Blake Kinser, who turned in a 73. Peyton Gray (80), Elliott Snelson (85) and Lance Hatfield (86) rounded out the winning total of 324.
The top three teams and the five best individuals not on one of those teams advanced to region.
Cumberland Gap placed third on the boys’ side with a 339, led by the 76 of Garrett Tucker, which was good enough to make him runner-up.
The five boys moving on where: Charlie DiBella (80) of Chuckey-Doak; Chris Kleinschmidtt (78), Jacob Samar (83) and Nick Barnard (84) of L&N Stem Academy; Aaron Farris (88) of West Greene.
On the girls’ side, the Lady Devils finished runner-up behind the sister combo of Lillith Bulawa (83) and Mary Ann Bulawa (84).
Claiborne finished a distant third with a 204 total, paced by Morgan Payne’s 93.
There was only one more team and two individuals who competed in addition to those top three girls’ teams, so every girl who finished at the district tournament moved on to region.
They included: Abbey Morgan (110), Lily Sorah (125) and Megan Samples (131) of L&N Stem Academy; Caleigh Cline (92) of Cumberland Gap; Heidi Lawson (100) of Northview Academy.
- By Darren Reese, Special To The Tribune