LEXINGTON – Their scores might not be sending them to the state tournament, but the Franklin County and Western Hills boys golf teams are headed in the right direction.
Both teams competed in the Region 9 golf tournament Wednesday at Kearney Hill Golf Links, and both improved from last year’s regional scores.
The Flyers shot 334 Wednesday, good for 10th place, and WHHS was 12th with a score of 337.
Last year in the regional tournament at Gibson Bay in Richmond, FCHS shot 355 and Western Hills 372.
“Right now three of them are chipping and putting on the putting green 20 minutes after they’re done playing in the regional tournament,” FCHS coach James Myers said of his team. “How many other teams do you see doing that?
“Jacob (Cook) has a lot to do with that. He’s so driven, and it’s starting to spill over to the other kids.”
Cook, a freshman at Franklin County, shot a four-over par 76 to lead the local golfers. That score put him in a tie for 10th place.
Lexington Catholic’s Matthew Mahle was medalist with a 71, the only under-par round of the tournament. Madison Central won the team title with a score of 299, and Lexington Catholic was runner-up at 304.
Both teams advance to the state tournament next week at Bowling Green Country Club. Qualifying as individuals were Billy Tom Sargent of Scott County with a 72, Gresham Wilson of Lexington Christian with a 73, and Tates Creek’s Chandler Morgan with a 74.
Blake Simpson, the only senior for WHHS, and Travis Hammond both shot 83 to lead the Wolverines.
“I’m actually pretty pleased with the team’s effort,” Western Hills coach Warren Mitchell said. “We had two 83s, an 84 and an 87 for our scores that counted, and that was under these conditions.”
The tournament started Monday, but heavy rain and lightning forced play to be suspended. It resumed Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.
“It was tough on the team to be here all day yesterday and you don’t know if you’re going to play,” Mitchell said. “You’re all geared up to play and then you don’t play at all, or you hit two shots, and you have to turn around and come back this morning.
“It’s hard to get up for this on the second day, but they definitely did. We got off to a rough start with conditions that were tough this morning. It was extremely wet.”
All of Franklin County’s players had teed off when play was suspended Monday while Hammond was the only WHHS to have started, and he’d only hit two shots on his first hole.
“This was a good experience,” Myers said. “I’m real proud of Will Harnice. He had a real bad front nine but battled back on the back nine and put up a good score on the back nine.
“For him to shoot 90 as a 12-year-old is really good. I thought the course played about 7,300 yards. It was set up for 6,900 but I thought it played longer. It was so wet and then there was the wind.”
Mitchell was also pleased with the way his team battled.
“Blake started with a double bogey,” he said, “and it tells a lot about the character of the kid that he has a really bad start but fought through that and still pulled out a good score.”
Simpson and Hammond both shot below their averages.
“Travis had some big numbers on individual holes,” Mitchell said, “but again he fought through it and posted what turned out to be a pretty good score.
“I was surprised when the scores came in. I didn’t expect them to be that good to be honest.”
Western Hills’ other three scores were Nick Wilkins 84, Chris Hughes 87, and Macaulay Hurst 93.
Besides Cook and Harnice, the other FCHS scores were Luke Kellerman 84, Ben Nolan 84, and Will Molen 104.
“This team has accomplished a lot this year,” Myers said, “and I think the biggest thing is they learned how to win. On a good day when they played well, they saw what it takes to win.
“Hopefully they’ll improve as much this off-season as they did last off-season. Luke has grown up so much this season. He’s improved by leaps and bounds.
“This is a great group of kids, and I love them to death. They do what you ask them to do. I’m real proud of them.”
Mitchell felt the same way about his team.
“They did what they’ve done all year,” he said. “They kept grinding it out, they didn’t give up, and they made the best of what they could on the course under these conditions.”
■ Western Hills closed out the regular season last Saturday with a third-place finish in the North Hardin Invitational at Lincoln Trail.
Macaulay Hurst shot a personal-best 77 to lead the Wolverines, who had a team score of 326. That was just one stroke out of second place and 13 out of first.
Chris Hughes shot a 79 in the tournament, followed by Hammond 81, Wilkins 89, and Simpson 93.
Below are the top 10 finishers and the complete team scores from the Region 9 tournament.
1. Madison Central 299, 2. Lexington Catholic 304, 3. Sayre 317, 4. Scott Co. 322, 5. Lexington Christian 325, 6. Tates Creek 326, 7. Dunbar 329, 7. George Rogers Clark 329, 9. Henry Clay 330, 10. Franklin Co. 334, 11. Lafayette 336, 12. Western Hills 337, 13. Woodford Co. 341, 14. Madison Southern 373, 15. Paris 409, 16. Berea 411, 17. Bryan Station 424.
1. Matthew Mahle (Lexington Catholic) 71, 2. Billy Tom Sargent (Scott Co.) 72, 3. Gresham Wilson (Lexington Christian) 73, 3. Devin Gabbard (Madison Central) 73, 5. Chandler Morgan (Tates Creek) 74, 5. Dylan Kelley (Madison Central) 74, 7. Dylan Hensley (Sayre) 75, 7. Paul Mitchell (Lexington Catholic) 75, 7. Ben Streepey (Lexington Catholic) 75, 10. Jacob Cook (Franklin Co.) 76, 10. Ross Cook (Henry Clay) 76, 10. John Cornelison (Madison Central) 76, 10. Carter Skipworth (Madison Central) 76.