FIRST TITLE: Panthers claim conference championship
Published 1:12 pm Thursday, April 21, 2016
ARAPAHOE — Northside won its first-ever 1-A Coastal Plains Conference championship this week. Exceptional performances from individual champion Tucker Mooring, Riley Vanstaalduinen and the Panthers team as a whole pushed them to a dominant performance.
The Panthers, as a team, shot 445 on the afternoon. Nearly 100 strokes separated them from second-place Pamlico County, which finished with a team score of 539.
Mooring rebounded from some disappointing performances in recent weeks. He shot an 87 in Northside’s first-place finish at the Nags Head Links two weeks ago, but dropped his score 10 strokes to the league-best 77 he shot against his Coastal Plains rivals.
“We had played at the beach in some matches against Manteo. The winds were blowing like 35 miles per hour and it was probably 40 degrees,” coach Jared Adams said. “(Mooring) didn’t have the best of rounds and I told him not to get discouraged or get down on himself. We went to the range and worked on some things. Mentally, not having to deal with the elements and weather, he was able to pull through a good round.”
Even considering the individual achievement, Mooring is proud of what the entire team was able to accomplish.
“It was nice to finally play good. I’m glad we got to finally win (the conference championship) as a team,” he said. “We kind of messed it up last year. It’s good to go out on a high note. … To do all these things with Northside, it’s been a lot of firsts. My junior season, we were the first team to go to states. Now we’re the first team ever to win the conference.”
Mooring, the team’s lone senior, wasn’t the only player with a standout performance. Vanstaalduinen continued his excellent sophomore campaign by shooting an 83. He had finished at the top of a few matches this season and ranked in as the conference’s No. 2 golfer, trailing only Mooring.
“Last year I came in and didn’t really know much,” Vanstaalduinen said. “I learned a lot from last year and needed to practice more. I’ve improved some. A lot of the guys are playing pretty well, too.
The rest of the team more than did its part. Northside was the lone club to have every golfer shoot below 100. Bryson Radcliffe and Gray Lewis each finished at 93 and Hunter Williams shot a 99.
“You see guys like Gray, Hunter, Bryson, Tucker — the whole team has played extremely well,” Vanstaalduinen said. “I’ve done a lot better since last year. You see a lot of strokes being dropped from everybody. It’s really fun to see guys that are usually shooting higher getting these low rounds. Their lowest rounds are better than some of the rounds I’ve had this year.”
Northside hopes to keep the ball rolling. The conference championship is just one item checked off the list of goals set back in the preseason. The Panthers have their sights set on regionals now and, hopefully, a shot at the state championship.