Prep golf: Roane, Spears dominate; Poca rallies for runner-up finish at states
WHEELING, W.Va. -- Poca had to settle for second place for the fourth consecutive year, but this time Coach Doug Smith was more than happy to accept the runner-up trophy.
The Dots rallied from fifth place, 10 strokes behind then-second-place Ritchie County, to finish second behind Roane County, which ran away with its second consecutive Class AA golf championship on Wednesday at Oglebay Resort's Robert Trent Jones Course.
In fact, when awards were being announced, Westside was incorrectly determined the runner-up when Smith spoke up.
"After yesterday (Tuesday), I'll take it in a heartbeat," he said. "Yes sir."
The Raiders' score of 228 on Tuesday was almost matched by Wednesday's, which was a 230. Roane's two-day score of 458 was the best of every class, the first time since at least 2005 the Class AA champion beat the score of the triple-A titlist. Records prior to 2005 are incomplete.
Senior Alston Spears followed his 72 on Tuesday with a 76 on Wednesday to win by four strokes over teammate Cole Moore and 10 strokes in front of teammate and Cole Moore's twin brother, Cam Moore.
"We wanted to put it on them," Spears said. "Same game plan for the second day, just go play. Me and Cole were in the last group today and we were battling it out today."
Last year's state title was the first in any sport for Roane County High School, making this year's golf crown the second.
"We want to start a golf dynasty," Spears said. "Just to be one of the first is so special. We put so much time into it. It's just an amazing feeling."
Poca's team improvement of 26 strokes in one day was the result of sophomore Alex Hamrick improving by seven strokes to earn All-State honors, senior Travis Covert rebounding by 14 strokes, and sophomore David Scragg improving by seven strokes.
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CABELL MIDLAND'S Seth Kinker had to settle for runner-up again, after the Knights finished as runners-up at the Class AAA state baseball tournament in March.
Kinker, whose future is in baseball, shot an 81 on each day to finish 13 strokes behind medalist Cole Hand of Wheeling Park, and four strokes from earning All-State honors.
The senior is looking ahead to spring and will play baseball in college.
Kinker, the runner-up for State Player of the Year in baseball last spring, said he has received offers from Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, Marshall and West Virginia University. He said he'll make the decision on his future before baseball season, which begins practice on March 3 and the regular season on March 19.
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FIVE OF THE eight Class A All-State players are from Region 4, with Aaron Persily, Christian Casingal and Nick Casingal from Charleston Catholic, Cory Hoshor from Buffalo and Ben Collie from Parkersburg Catholic.
The other three, individual medalist Michael Rogers from Madonna, fourth-place Coleman Lamp from St. Marys and Alex Colantonio, who tied for sixth place, reside in Region 1.
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CHARLESTON CATHOLIC Coach Bill Gillispie had an interesting dilemma entering the second round of the State Tournament.
He told freshman Cameron Blakley that if he shot higher than an 85 in the first round on Tuesday, he would allow junior Jackson Ellis to replace him as the team's No. 4 player.
Blakley shot an 86, but was still in line for All-State honors. However, a player must compete in both rounds to earn All-State.
Gillispie kept his word and put Ellis on the course for the second round.
"I didn't play very well, but I understand the course better," said Ellis, who shot a 95. "Cam was OK with it. He wanted the opportunity to get All-State, but he was OK with it."
The top eight players in each class earn All-State.
The cutoff for All-State in Class A was 165, requiring Blakley to shoot a 79 to finish in the top eight.
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GILLISPIE WAS named the National Federation of High School Association's West Virginia Golf Coach of the Year during the awards presentation at the conclusion of the State Tournament.
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RITCHIE COUNTY'S Sydney Snodgrass failed to break 80 for the second time in her four trips to the State Tournament.
As a freshman, the University of Alabama-Birmingham recruit shot 86-87 for a 163. She earned All-State as a sophomore and junior, but had a sub-80 round both years.
Her 80-81 put her in sixth place on Wednesday, 13 strokes behind Spears.
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POCA'S HAMRICK earned All-State for the first time as a sophomore, shooting seven strokes better in the second round on Wednesday.
His brother George, who won Class AA medalist honors as a junior (2010) and senior (2011), finished seventh as a sophomore, shooting a 169 - 10 strokes higher than Alex.
As a freshman, George shot a 166 while Alex finished with a 165 - on the same course - as a ninth-grader.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837.