HOT SPRINGS — Giles coach W.R. Johnston has been around the game of golf long enough to learn that some quirky and unexpected things can happen out on the course, especially when bad weather is involved.
Fortunately for Johnston’s Spartans, the team was prepared to battle both the stormy and soggy conditions as well as the rest of the field at the Region 2C tournament Monday at the historic Old Course at the Omni Homestead.
Giles edged runner-up Radford by two strokes to claim the region title.
Both the Spartans and Bobcats qualified for the Oct. 14 VHSL Class 2 state meet at The Pete Dye River Course at Virginia Tech.
Also qualifying as individuals were Sam VanDyne of Fort Chiswell, Avery Alexander of Glenvar and tournament medalist Tyler Williams of Floyd County.
Williams fired a 76, while VanDyne and Alexander each carded 79s.
Johnston, who has been at the helm of the Giles program since 1996, had been warned of potential storms in Hot Springs late last week. A friend told him that they were forecasting up to 2 inches of rain on the day of the tournament.
“I don’t know if we actually ended up getting that much today but it sure seemed pretty close,” he said. “I sent the team a text message and told them to not forget to bring an umbrella, an extra dry towel, a change of clothes and maybe all of this will just work out perfect for us — I’ve just got a feeling.”
The coach’s hunch turned out to be correct.
Last year’s 2C individual champion Logan Douthat led the way for the Spartans with a 79, one of just five in the 73-player field to break 80.
“The conditions today were really tough but I think we had a better mindset than most of the teams going in,” Douthat said. “We knew it was going to rain. We’ve practiced playing in the rain, and we knew we were going to have to really pull something off to shoot what we did and win.”
The tourney featured a rain delay of well over an hour that began soon after the first few groups finished their rounds. Course conditions worsened after the storm.
“Our group was lucky to finish not too long before the delay started,” said Williams, who will be moving on without the rest of his team next week. “A few teammates mentioned how tough it was when they got back on the course.”
It was the first high school tournament win for Williams.
VanDyne, a senior, avenged his hard luck from a year ago, when he missed qualifying for the state tournament by just one stroke.
“I worked hard all offseason, playing every day and just trying to figure out a way to shave that one or two strokes off,” he said. “I didn’t card anything worse than a bogey today, so I’m pretty happy with the performance.”