published Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Hurricanes win 6-A/AA golf tourney

In four days, East Hamilton's Hurricanes went from worst in the City Prep golf tournament to first in the District 6-A/AA event, edging second-place Hixson 320-323 on Monday at Moccasin Bend.

Led by medalist Jake Keller's 2-over-par 74, Red Bank finished third at 343. By TSSAA rule, the top three teams and the individuals with the five best scores not on one of those teams qualify for the Region 3 tournament Thursday at Chatata Valley in Cleveland, starting at 9 a.m.

The Hurricanes got into the City Prep field this year for the first time, and the 349 they carded last Thursday at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay left them in last place among eight boys' teams.

"We were playing against big-time programs like McCallie, Baylor and Notre Dame," said coach Jeff Stetzler, whose team's low score that day was 83. "Even though we played those teams in the regular season, I think playing in that environment and having that experience helped them. I think it will help them on Thursday, too."

Stetzler said the key to winning Monday was the play of sophomore Christian Silvers, who from his team's No. 4 position was runner-up to Keller by one shot, and eighth-grader Reese Scobey. He played at No. 3 and tied for third at 76.

"We were region runners-up last year," Stetzler said. "Our goals at the start of this year were to win the region and repeat as district champions. We've got one thing down. I hope we get one more of our goals Thursday. We're going to have to play just as good, or better."

Keller's individual district championship is his second. The senior won his other on the same course when he was a sophomore.

"This year was tougher because the field was tougher," Keller said. "It was a lot of fun."

Where Keller won it this year was on the closing stretch. Playing the front side second, he played holes Nos. 5 through 9 in 2 under par.

"I kept a level head," Keller said. "I didn't play particularly well on the back side, but I was able to get on a roll on the front side. I just missed a few putts, but other than that I played pretty well."

In the third-place playoff, Hixson's Thad Smith won on the second hole with a tap-in birdie on the par-5 No. 18. Scobey wound up fourth and Red Bank's Ryder Pierce was fifth.

• District 5-A/AA: At Chatata Valley, Sequoyah won the boys' team championship with a 322. McMinn Central (325) and Polk County (330) also advance to the region tournament on the same course.

Polk County's Evan Ball shot a 3-under 69 and won the individual title by eight strokes. McMinn Central's Braden Stewart was runner-up.

With medalist Madison Balthrop's 86 leading the way, Boyd-Buchanan's 176 was four shots better than Sequoyah's score in the girls' competition. Lydia Triplett finished a stroke behind Balthrop and helped Polk County secure the other region berth with a 197.

• District 7-A/AA: At Willowbrook in Manchester, Notre Dame shot 299 and won the boys' championship while Signal Mountain took the girls' title with a 164. Other teams advancing to Friday's Region 4 tournament at the Cookeville Country Club are Chattanooga Christian's boys and girls, both runners-up Monday, and Signal Mountain's boys and Notre Dame's girls.

The Irish's David Weeks was boys' medalist with a 2-under 70, and teammate Will Armor was four shots back. Signal Mountain's Sarah Dolmovich (78), Andi Fisher (86) and Haley Davidson (89) took the top girls' spots.

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653.

about Kelley Smiddie...

Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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