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Prep golf: Chase for medalist honors wide open

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The battle for West Virginia Class A golf supremacy goes through Charleston Catholic, but the most interesting race when the State Tournament arrives in October is for medalist honors.

The sprint to the finish begins today for golfers statewide when the two-month season gets underway before concluding at the 36-hole state championships Oct. 8-9 at Wheeling's Robert Trent Jones Course.

As for the favorite to win small school medalist, well, that's not quite as defined.

Buffalo senior Cory Hoshor took advantage of the second-round struggles of Charleston Catholic junior Christian Casingal - the 2011 medalist - and Irish senior Aaron Persily to win by two strokes at the 2012 tournament.

Hoshor's goal, however, is to go low for the sole purpose of his team winning a title. Any individual accolades that go along with it are gravy.

"We have a good team and I think we can win or at least get runner-up," Hoshor said. "We finished one shot out of second last year and I'd like to help my team win this year."

Behind Hoshor and Bradley Harris - who finished 14th last year - as well as Blaik Caplinger (18th) and Drew Patton (26th), the Bison are hoping to surpass favorite Charleston Catholic and strong contender Madonna.

Hoshor made the cut at the State Open at Parkersburg Country Club (tied for 24th), improving by six strokes from the first to the third round of the 54-hole event. He also is playing in the State Amateur this week where he missed the cut last year.

"At the start of the year, I was playing pretty good," he said. "I played pretty good at some spring events, the Open and stuff like that, toward the end I've kind of trailed off. This week and next week, I'm starting to get my game back."

The two-time defending champion Irish returns Casingal, as well as Persily, who is a three-time All-State player.

Here is a look at some of the top players and teams in each class.

Class AAA - Last season, University ended Wheeling Park's goal of matching Huntington (1997-99) and Hurricane (2007-09) as the only teams to win three consecutive big school titles since the sport was expanded to two classes in 1988.

Despite the loss of Trent McPherson, the Hawks might not be finished. University returns Eric Wirth (3rd in 2012) and Cale Wheeler (4th), giving the Patriots and Hawks four of the top prep golfers in the state.

Class AA - Roane County will be a tough out in the state's middle class, where the Raiders boast the 2012 medalist (Alston Spears) and sophomore twins Cole and Camden Moore. Poca has seen George Hamrick win back-to-back medalist honors (2010-11), but the Dots have fallen short the last three years with runner-up finishes. Cam Moore is playing in this week's State Amateur.

Travis Covert finished third in the states as a junior for Poca last year and sophomore Alex Hamrick - George's younger brother - finished 11th.

Class A - The Irish are the prohibitive favorites in the smallest class, seeking their third straight crown with Madonna and Buffalo as two of its toughest opponents.

Persily - who qualified for his first State Amateur this year with a dramatic birdie in a playoff - finished tied for fourth as a freshman, second as a sophomore and third as a junior, finishing a combined four strokes back the last two years.

Madonna is also in the mix, led by Alex Colantonio, who finished third in 2012.

* * *

THE HIGH SCHOOL season is highlighted by the Callaway Junior Tour High School Series with four events this month.

Kicking off the 2013 season is the Lewisburg Elks Golf Invitational Aug. 9. A 10-team field will be comprised of Richwood, Roane County, Charleston Catholic, Poca, Morgantown, Sherman, Scott 'A' and Scott 'B' teams, Man and Westside.

The Parkersburg Country Club Invitational on Aug. 12 has 23 entries with Belpre (Ohio), Magnolia, Roane County, Warren (Ohio) 'A' and 'B' teams, Lewis County, Wheeling Park 'A' and 'B' teams, Buffalo, Wirt County, Bridgeport, Williamstown, Linsly, Charleston Catholic, Poca, Morgantown, North Marion, Parkersburg Catholic, Ritchie County, University, Parkersburg, East Fairmont, Parkersburg South 'B', Waterford (Ohio), Huntington, Marietta (Ohio), Winfield, Logan and Westside.

The Ohio Valley Invitational at Highland Springs Golf Club in Wellsburg on Aug. 14 will have Roane, Bridgeport, Linsly, Brooke, Morgantown, North Marion, Ritchie County, University 'A', University 'B', Hedgesville, John Marshall, Madonna, Parkersburg, East Fairmont, Huntington and Parkersburg South 'B'.

The final event of the Series is the Capital City Classic at Big Bend Golf Course in Tornado on Aug. 16 with Roane, Buffalo, Wirt County, Williamstown, Charleston Catholic, Poca, Parkersburg Catholic, Ritchie County, Sherman, North Marion, Scott 'A', Scott 'B', Princeton, Parkersburg, Lincoln County, Parkersburg South 'B', Logan, Sissonville, Winfield and Westside.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@daily or 304-348-4837.



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