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Freshman Sam Comer is short in stature, but his 72 led Hidden Valley to the 3A West regional golf title.
STEPHANIE KLEIN-DAVIS | The Roanoke Times
“Today was about surviving and advancing to state and that’s why I wasn’t too upset about the whole thing,” said Cave Spring’s Drew Lagan, who missed short putts on No. 14 and No. 18.
Photos by STEPHANIE KLEIN-DAVIS | The Roanoke Times
Andrew Spiegler of Abingdon was co-medalist with Cave Spring’s Drew Lagan and Hidden Valley’s Sam Comer.
STEPHANIE KLEIN-DAVIS | The Roanoke Times
William Byrd golfer Dylan Carr tees off on the 17th hole at Botetourt Swim & Golf Club on Tuesday. Carr shot a 74 to advance to next week’s state tournament.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
TROUTVILLE — Sam Comer is 5 feet 3 and weighs 107 pounds.
“He’s not big, is he?” Hidden Valley golf coach Brian Harris duly noted.
That’s OK. The Hidden Valley freshman proved Tuesday at Botetourt Golf & Swim Club that he’s capable of some heavy lifting at Botetourt Golf & Swim Club.
In the most spectacular round of his young life, the 14-year-old Comer produced a career-low 1-over-par 72 to tie for medalist honors and hoist the Titans to the 3A West regional title by two shots over Tunstall.
In a round that ended just before darkness turned out the lights in the Botetourt County hills, Hidden Valley got consistent work from its entire six-player lineup and punched its ticket to next week’s 3A state championship that will be played Monday and Tuesday at Heritage Oaks Golf Course in Harrisonburg.
Remember the Titans? Well, no matter what happens next week, few, if any, linked to the program will ever forget the yeoman duty pulled by this bunch this season. Harris’ group of underdogs won the Bob McLelland Metro Invitational title in August and then proceeded to capture the inaugural Conference 32 tournament last week. And now this.
“What a season!” an elated Harris said. “These kids deserve it. Sam, our freshman, had a career 72. Our seniors — Sean O’Connell has pulled through in three big matches for us, Jack Henry the same, both are three-year captains for us. And, of course, Kristin Hearp and Brad Williams and John Craghead were consistent players.
“That’s our team strength right now, just six consistent golfers.
“We didn’t expect this. This is the first time we’ve made it to the state tournament since 2010. Did the fifth-year coach ever have an inkling this could happen back when the team assembled back on Aug. 1?
“We talked about it on the bus coming over here,’’ Harris said. “We talked about it, we tried to get the kids to believe in it. I think halfway through the round when they started to hit the bumps, they started to get a little frustrated with themselves, but they just didn’t know how good 77s were going to be. Sam’s 72 was big, then those numbers coming in the back with 79 was a good number.
“And up front, the little man was phenomenal. Man, he showed a lot of maturity.”
The Titans’ featherweight No. 3 player never wavered in besting his best round of the season by five shots — a 77 at Blacksburg Country Club in the regular season.
“This is unbelievable!” said Comer, grinning widely and flashing his braces-filled upper rack of teeth. “We overachieved a lot. This is just icing on the cake.
“It’s very special. I had good feelings about it, but I didn’t expect something like this.”
After posting 72 to become the low player in the house, Comer was overjoyed because he knew then that barring some very unusual circumstances, he was headed to state.
When it was over, there was the little man standing behind a table with fellow co-medalists — Cave Spring’s Drew Lagan and Abingdon’s Andrew Spiegler, a pair of much more heralded players who were expected to battle it out for the individual crown.
“I tied with pair of freshmen,’’ said Lagan, a senior. “Those two freshmen are going to be hard to handle. Spiegler is the real deal, and what about little Comer and that round? Give it up to the kid!”
Lagan could only blame himself for having to divvy up medalist honors. He missed a pair of one-foot putts — on Nos. 14 and 18.
The one on the final hole hit the right lip, did a 360-degree lap around the cup and then horse-shoed out of the jar.
“I marked my ball both times, stepped back and looked and read each one and missed them,” said Lagan, who did lock up an individual state bid as his team fell short, finishing fourth behind third-place William Byrd.
“So pretty much I gave it away. But know what, it’s not really a big deal, honestly. Today was about surviving and advancing to state, and that’s why I wasn’t too upset about the whole thing. If this had been next week, I would have hurt for a while.”
Spiegler, who is 3 under for the fall in regular-season and conference tournament play and now regional, was looking forward to a three-way playoff in the dark, but had to settle for the stalemate. There weren’t enough flashlights for that, though.
“I was wondering if we were going to finish,’’ said Spiegler, playing in the third-to-last group. “But they started carting us around and that sped up play. Now we get to do it again next week. I wouldn’t be shocked if Drew and I battled again.”
Lagan and Spiegler were joined in the individual qualifier group by Byrd’s Dylan Carr (74), Rockbridge’s County’s Peter Shaner (75) and Cave Spring’s T.K. Garrett (75) and Broadway’s Ocean Armstrong (74).At Botetourt Golf & Swim Club (par-71)
x-Hidden Valley (305) — Sam Comer 72, Kristin Hearp 77, Jack Henry 77, Sean O’Connell 79, John Craghead 81, Brad Williams 82.
x-Tunstall (307) — Rand Gibson 74, Eriq Squier 75, Andrew Moon 77, Casey Dillon 81, Chandler Wilkins 83, Bryant Cook 88.
William Byrd (312) — y-Dylan Carr 74, Derrick Chocklett 76, Tyler Hurley 77, Ben Belcher 85, Austin Chocklett 86, Ty Houser 94.
Cave Spring (315) — y-Drew Lagan 72, y-T.K. Garrett 75, Meagan Board 83, Richard Fishwick 85, Hunter White 89, Alex Line DQ.
Rockbridge County (320) — y-Peter Shaner 75, Ely Spencer 77, Tristen Huffman 84, Cole Huffman 84, Gus Spencer 86, Mason Grist 90.
Western Albemarle (329) — Kyle Landis 76, Hunter Weis 82, Tyler Mahone 83, Jake Thompson 88, Joe Squillace 90, Erin Redgrave 101.
Rustburg (339) — Austin Brooks 81, Blake Wisecarver 83, Hunter Metz 87, Hunter Campbell 88, Josh Campbell 91, Aubrey Hall 91.
Monticello (342) — Robert Deane 79, Danny Larrabee 84, Ryan Pace 87, Nate Fox 92, Andrew Browning 94, Andrew Vermillion 104.
y-Andrew Spiegler (Abingdon) 72, y-Ocean Armstrong (Broadway) 74, Lyndsey Hunnell (Lord Botetourt) 76, Hal Bailey Jr. (Lord Botetourt) 76, Daniel Wine (Spotswood) 78, Parker See (Fort Defiance) 80, Rucker Shipp (Liberty) 87, Carson Wimmer (Northside) 88, David Tolley (Blacksburg) 88, Damian Beasley (Patrick County) 89, Drew Hornady (Liberty) 92, Lamie Carroll 99.
x-team qualifier for Group 3A tournament.
y-individual qualifier for Group 3A tournament.
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