As early as last year, after finishing second to Greenville Rose in the state 3-A tournament, Terry Sanford boys golf coach Jeff Morehead said his returning players had no trouble with the idea they would be the front runners for this year’s championship.
“Whether it was a conference match, at regionals or the state, they embraced it,” he said. “They liked being the team to beat all year.”
At Foxfire Resort Red Fox Course this week, they went from an embrace to a hammer lock on the title as they cruised to victory.
The Bulldogs scored a whopping 31-stroke win over second-place Stuart Cramer. They were the only team to break 300 for the entire tournament, shooting 298 the last day for a team total of 598.
Ethan Paschal and Thomas Horne led the Bulldog assault, Paschal surviving a three-way playoff to take medalist honors while Horne tied for sixth place.
Paschal shot 71-69-140, while Horne turned in a 72-76-148.
Other scoring totals for Terry Sanford were Charlie Horne and Parks Helms at 155 and Alex Schenk at 188.
Paschal survived a bumpy start that included a triple bogey on No. 7 and a double bogey on No. 11. He regrouped to birdie three of the last seven holes and pull into a tie for the lead, forcing the playoff.
“He was even going into the last seven holes,” Morehead said. “He knew exactly what number he had to get to get into a playoff for the individual championship.”
The momentum he built during the final seven holes, along with the support of his teammates who knew they had the team title clinched, carried Paschal through the four holes of sudden death.
Once he got to the playoff, Paschal said his strategy did not change.
“Definitely just do the best I can,” he said.
He had played both of his opponents, David Gee of Fred T. Foard and Tyler Jones of Jacksonville, before.
“They both had some putts that could have easily gone in,” he said. “It was a nerve-wracking four holes.”
Paschal said he felt comfortable on the playoff holes since he had played them one under par both days of the tournament.
He had to scramble a bit on the second playoff hole. His tee shot landed in a fairway divot. He hit the ball over the green, then hit a flop shot within 5 feet of the hole and made the putt to save par, then converted an up-and-down situation to stay alive on the third hole.
On the clinching fourth hole he hit a tee shot within 79 yards of the green, then got within 5 feet of the cup and knocked it in for the winning birdie.
Paschal called the playoff one of the biggest ones he has ever been in. Two summers ago, he was in an AJGA tournament and lost.
“It feels good to win this one,” he said. “It means the world to me to have my team and me go into the record books. That banner will be there forever.”
The Mustangs finished the 2023 season with a 12-0 record, but that’s just part of their accomplishment. Their closest game was a 6-0 win over John Griffin Middle School. They scored in double digits 10 of the 12 games.
They allowed one unearned run, the only run they gave up, to Gray’s Creek Middle School. In 72 innings, their pitchers recorded 123 strikeouts with just 10 walks.
Leading hitters were Luke Clevidence at .652, Brycen Talley at .615 and Landon Underwood at .611. Logan Rayburn was 6-0 with 42 strikeouts in 21 innings. Bryce West was 3-0. The team’s ERA was zero and they allowed seven hits for the year. The defense committed three errors.
Oh, and the two-year record at Mac Williams is 23-0.
Freedom, seeded No. 2 in the seven-team field, faces top-seeded Wayne Christian School. Wayne is 18-7, and Freedom is 12-8. Today’s game is at 6 p.m. with the second game at 3 p.m. Saturday. A deciding third game will follow if needed.
Dr. Keith Meister, who is the team orthopedic surgeon for the Texas Rangers, performed the surgery. He has previously operated on other Angels pitchers. Warren is expected to miss the rest of the season recovering from the operation.
According to NCRunners.com, Terry Sanford’s Dorsey has the best time in the 3-A 400 meters this year. JaMeesia Ford of Britt has the top time in the 4-A 400 meters.
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