It was another strong week for the JCHS Golf team. Traveling to several different courses after playing their last home game Monday, the Longhorns got the chance to try their hand in some unfamiliar territory, but as Coach Steve Arnold pointed out, the team still pulled out a well-rounded performance. They really impressed me at Rye Cove, Arnold said. They beat Rye Cove, Thomas Walker, and Sullivan North on a course we have never seen before. North had just beaten us at Warriors Path by eight and we got them by 16, on a very demanding course. With five of six players in the 40s, we are playing well right now.
One of the first games of the week was against the top ranked Happy Valley Warriors along with the Sullivan East Patriots. Although Johnson County was not able to pull out the win they still held their own, with several players ranking individual scores at or better than their opponents. Blade Hampton was one of Johnson Countys top six, bringing in a respectable score of 46, the same as Happy Valleys Zach Carter and Easts Jordan James. Its really just mental stuff, Hampton said. My drives not very good, but my short game has been excellent, which is why Ive done so well recently. Thats what Ive been focusing on this year, my short game, putting and things like that, instead of trying to get the ball far. Ive hit the ball this year shorter than I ever have. Right now Im getting more accurate shots, putting it closer to the hole, but as far as the team goes, Happy Valley is the toughest team for sure. It might be that next year well be the ones to beat, but this year its Happy Valley.
Ultimately the Warriors came away with the win with a 154-stroke team total. East trailed behind by eight strokes at 162, while Johnson County came in at 176. The best score of the evening went to Nathaniel Graybeal, a player who Coach Arnold has noted for his strong improvement this season. Nathaniel has come from shooting 52 down to scoring in the low 40s on a consistent basis. Arnold said. He has worked hard, as he now has a strong hold on the number five spot on the team. Our top five are at anytime as good as anyone in the district if they play smart, but all it takes is one bad mental mistake and your chances go away from advancing to regionals, said Arnold.
The Longhorns closed out the week in a match at Elizabethton against a triple threat consisting of Hampton, Elizabethton, and Happy Valley. Finishing out with a team score of 168, the Longhorns managed to beat the Elizabethton Cyclones at 177, but they were still trailing Hampton by just a few strokes at 164, and Happy Valley at 150. According to Coach Arnold, We really opened some eyes at Elizabethton, getting to within four of Hampton on their home course. With Nathan Timbs playing number one and carding a score of 41 along with Jacob Henson at number two with a 41, followed by Blade Hamptons 42, and Nathaniel Graybeals 44 to shoot a 168, it was one of our lowest scores of the season, but with the rough mowed down and the soft greens, you cant help but post a good score.
As the season begins to wind to a close, players like Blade Hampton are beginning to get anxious about the teams standing in the districts. The whole team has done pretty good this season, Hampton said. I just hope to play in the districts really. Thats the main thing; nothing else really matters if you dont get to play in districts. I hope we make it to team regionals. If we can beat Hampton we can make regionals for sure. Next year were going to be really good. With me and Nathaniel Graybeal, Tristan Clawson, Nathan Timbs and all the others we should be a strong team next year.
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