Washington golf wins regional, Northside qualifies for state championships with 3rd place finish

Published 1:33 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2015

JIM KOZUCH | CONTRIBUTED BEST IN THE EAST: The Washington golf team poses for a picture after winning the 2-A eastern regional golf championship on Monday.

BEST IN THE EAST: The Washington golf team poses for a picture after winning the 2-A eastern regional golf championship on Monday.

United by an early morning craving for fast food, the Washington and Northside golf teams, unbeknownst to each other’s plans, pulled into the Bojangles parking lot early Monday morning. After downing some biscuits, the Washington bus left the parking lot, setting a course to the 2-A regional tournament at Snow Hill’s Cutter Creek Golf Club. Northside, conveniently, had a much shorter drive, down Highway 17 to Cypress Landing in Chocowinity for the 1-A regional tournament.

The Pam Pack entered as one of the favorites to take the regional championship, while the Panthers, having never earned a bid to the state championships, were considered the underdogs, matched up against frequently successful teams in Lejeune, Manteo and Riverside.

But by the end of the day, for the first time in history, both teams had earned bids to the state championships, to be held next Monday and Tuesday. Washington, carried by consistency, took home the eastern regional championship trophy after shooting a 321, while one stroke proved to be the difference in Northside earning a third-place regional finish and state championship bid.

“It’s gratifying because the guys have put so much time in,” said Northside head coach Joe Burns. “They worked all summer, all fall, all winter, and we practiced basically for the last 12 months for (Monday). And they came through … they came through. They beat an old rival (Riverside) by one shot. As a coach, I couldn’t be more proud.”

Northside’s bid was particularly fulfilling, considering the way the team’s regular season ended, losing its 19-stroke conference lead at the hands of Lejeune in the final match, the Coastal Plains Conference Tournament.

“Even though we went in there with a big lead and lost it, I think we learned a lot about ourselves,” Burns said. “Going into regionals, I felt they had something to prove after losing out on the conference. I knew they would show up. I felt we had more fight in us then what we proved in the conference tournament.”

Lejeune continued its strong season, taking the 1-A regional championship with a score of 363, while Manteo finished second with a score of 369. Northside qualified with a score of 378.

Individually, the Devil Pups’ Grady Anderson took home gold after shooting a 74, but the Panthers’ Tucker Mooring and Riley Van Staalduinen, a freshman, were forced into a one-hole tiebreaker for second place, both finishing 18 holes with a score of 81. Mooring went on to top Van Staalduinen in the tiebreaker. Other notable Northside scores were Trenton Clayton (100), Evan Cornelius (116) and Hunter Williams (123).

Washington won the 2-A eastern regional championship with a score of 321, beating second-place East Duplin by four strokes. Conference foe Farmville Central finished in third place with a score of 329.

“The guys are totally excited,” said Washington head coach Jim Kozuch. “They’ve worked really, really hard this year and we’re looking forward to extending the season.”

Perhaps the most noteworthy accomplishment lies in the individual standings, where Washington failed to have a player finish in the top four, overall. In the truest definition of team effort, four of the Pam Pack’s five golfers finished in the top 15, more than any of the nine teams competing.

Peter Birdsong and Tony Lovenberg tied for fifth-place with a score of 79, while Eric Lovenberg tied three other golfers at 81 for seventh place. Right behind Lovenberg was William Page, who finished with a score of 82. Not to be discredited, Simon Amaxopolous notched a respectable score of 88.

“We did good enough to win and actually still improve. We can do better,” Kozuch said. “Some of our guys have to work hard this week, but some of them are starting to play their best golf all season.”

“I think we’re going to stick to exactly what we’ve been doing, being consistent. We don’t’ have to have someone win the individual state championship for us to have a good showing there.”

And while Farmville and Washington both qualified, Southwest Edgecombe’s Cole Jeffreys, the defending 2-A state champion, blew away the competition individually, his score of 71 good enough for gold. Among all of the conferences represented in the region, the Eastern Plains had the best showing, making Washington’s nearly flawless regular season even more significant.

On Monday, Northside will travel to the Foxfire Resort and Golf Club in Foxfire Village for the 1-A state championships. Washington will compete in the 2-A state championships at Whispering Pines Country Club.