The Warren County High School girls golf team traveled to Harrison Bay golf course in Chattanooga Thursday hoping to add a regional championship to its District 6-AAA crown, but instead sophomore Nicholas Powell from the boys golf team stole the show.
After qualifying for the regional tournament as an individual performer, Powell shot a 1-over 73 to earn a trip to the state golf tournament Sept. 25-26 at WillowBrook golf course.
Six members of the boys and girls golf teams made the trip to Chattanooga in hopes of making the state tournament, though the Lady Pioneers and Pioneers qualified in much different ways.
The Lady Pioneers won the District 6-AAA tournament, giving Warren County a chance to make the state tournament as a team. Powell, along with teammates Clayton Myers and Nick Stern, each earned individual invites for a chance to make the state tournament.
The Lady Pioneers finished two strokes short of bringing home a regional championship as Warren County shot 173 as a team. Cookeville tied Walker Valley with 171, then the Lady Cavaliers went on to win a playoff to claim the championship.
Freshman Saylem Powell, who led the Lady Pioneers with a round of 85, watched the playoff between Cookeville and Walker Valley intently as a berth in the state tournament was on the line.
With a Walker Valley victory, Powell would have advanced to a playoff with Lady Cavalier Anna Cunningham for the fourth spot given to individuals in the state tournament.
When Cookeville won though, Powell was left one spot out of the state tournament, ending an impressive season for the freshman.
Sophomore Brittany Myers shot 88 as the Lady Pioneers saw their season come to a close two strokes away from a state berth. Senior Katelyn Davenport finished her career with a round of 92.
Coach J.W. Holt complimented his girls team, which won the Tullahoma tournament and six other matches.
“I’m very pleased with the season our girls had. They definitely reached my expectations for them,” said Holt. “For a team that had a freshman and sophomore playing against mostly seniors and juniors, I think we did very well to win some tournaments and matches.
“We came a couple strokes short of state, but the future looks good for our team.”
While Saylem Powell finished one spot away from a state title, Nicholas Powell was able to sneak his way into the state tournament by turning in his best round this season.
Powell shot 73, including a blistering 3-under-par 33 on the back nine, to finish in a tie for second at the event.
White County golfer A.J. Wilkerson won the event with an even-par 72, but Powell knew before a three-person playoff began for the second-medalist title he would be on the golf course in Manchester in two weeks.
The top four spots by individuals not on the winning team, which was Cookeville, were guaranteed a bid into the state tournament.
Powell didn’t look like he would make the cut when he made the turn at 4-over with a 40 on the front nine, but his play picked up when he started the back nine.
Things began to go the sophomore’s way on the tee box at the par-3 11th hole. Powell nearly had a hole-in-one as his shot landed within a foot of the hole. A tap-in putt gave Powell his first of four birdies.
Powell sank a 30-foot putt on No. 13 to move to 3-over, then lowered his score again with a short birdie putt on No. 15.
Powell’s final birdie came on the par-5 No. 17 when he made short work of the 503-yard hole.
Powell was within 10 feet of the green after two shots, then got up-and-down to get within one shot of even par for the round.
Though Powell came up one stroke short of the top spot at regionals, the sophomore was fine with settling for a state-tournament bid.
Myers and Stern each turned in solid rounds of 75 at Harrison Bay, but the score was two strokes behind the pace set by the leaders in Chattanooga.
Powell will begin play at the state tournament in Manchester Monday, Sept. 24 with a practice round. Powell will play two 18-hole rounds the following two days as the state champion will be crowned Wednesday, Sept. 26.