Johnson County ended their last full week of conference golf on a high note besting the Elizabethton Cyclones 162 to 169 and rounding out their phenomenal season record at 24 and 7. For Head Coach Steve Arnold, earning a second place ranking in the conference was an exciting accomplishment, especially considering that the Longhorns are not heavily loaded with senior players.
As I stated in August, our five and six seed is the strongest in the district, proclaimed Arnold. Brandon Vannoy and Isaiah Penley have really come on strong and were not part of the starting line up last year, along with Morgan Eggers who was number seven last year and this year has at times jumped to number two in the line up. Nathaniel Graybeal and Blade Hampton have been very close all year as far as averages. I could draw straws for the line up and not skip a beat as far as the strength of the team. We lose two starters for next year but have five players coming back that can score well, though we will be looking for someone to fill that number six spot.
The first match of the week saw the Longhorns best the Sullivan East Patriots 162-184 with Nathan Timbs retaining his top spot by pulling in a strong 38. That match was at home but the next day Johnson County traveled to Elizabethton where they proved just how strong they were. Once again Timbs took the helm in the upper 30s coming in just one stroke ahead of Blade Hampton at 40. Eggers and Graybeal rounded out the top four with another team total of 162.
This left the Longhorns tied with Hampton, but well ahead of Sullivan North and full seven strokes beyond Elizabethtons reach. The Happy Valley Warriors rounded out the line up in fourth place at 170. That was our strongest play of the year and at Elizabethton for our final week of the season, said Coach Arnold. Scores of 162 and 167 might have given us some confidence as we headed into the districts. Nathan Timbs played great, carding a 39 and 38, and the rest of the team did a great job with all shooting in the low 40s.
Yet, that was just the start of Johnson Countys week long winning streak, rolling right into the third and fourth matches against teams like Greenville, Unicoi, Happy Valley, and once again Elizabethton. Only the Green Devils were able to come in with a better score, taking the lead with an overall 160. This left the Longhorns once again in charge over the Cyclones 167-174 and well ahead of all the other teams in the lineup.
With so many big victories this year, Johnson Countys confidence was high coming into the district tournament, a fact that Coach Arnold seemed pleased with most of all. We played Elizabethton two days in a row in order to get ready for Monday, Arnold said. We havent done much of anything different because I believe if it aint broke, you dont fix it. Weve had another very good team, great kids, but I would have to say this team might be a little more consistent in their scores. They have been around their averages about every match. They just go out and take care of business, and are a very laid back group, which is good if you play golf. We are one of the best teams in the district, and we shall see come tournament time.