McMinn County's Hunter Hensley and Walker Valley's Hunter Carroll knew their teams were close as they played the final holes of the District 5-AAA golf tournament Monday.
They couldn't have known how close. Only one stroke separated the two teams.
Carroll's par putt on No. 18 at the Bear Trace at Harrison Bay helped provide the Mustangs with a one-shot win over McMinn County -- 299 to 300 -- and the district championship.
"Every time we go at it, the difference is one or two strokes," said Walker Valley coach Bob Williams, who counted Carroll's 80 among his four scores. "It's great competition."
So close that they needed a team playoff to determine a nine-hole head-to-head match last week and they've been separated by just one stroke (or a playoff) in seven competitions this year.
"Oh, it's close," McMinn coach Jerry Quirk said. "Next week, though, is the one that matters."
Walker Valley, McMinn County and third-place Soddy-Daisy -- which tallied 311 -- will play in the Region 3 tournament next Monday at Lake Tansi Golf Course in Crossville. Only the winning team and five individuals not on that team will advance to the state championship.
"It's good to win the district, but I really just wanted to get through as a team and go to regions," said Walker Valley senior Clark Melton, the medalist with a 4-under 68. "Our team played good today. I hope we do it again and go to state."
Soddy-Daisy senior Jacob Clark was runner-up with a 71, and Walker Valley's Corey Evans finished third with a 72 despite being 3 over par through his first three holes.
The Walker Valley girls had a much easier time winning their championship than the other Mustangs. Avery George was the individual runner-up with a 2-over 74 and teammate Katie Bishop shot 78 in one of her best rounds this year.
George has played in the last three region championships. And she's played in the past three state championships, but never with a teammate. She'd like for Bishop and Brittani Pederson to have that experience this year.
"I used to play softball, so I know about team championships and that's fun," said George, who has committed to Middle Tennessee State. "If Katie does what she did today, I think we'll have a good shot."
Soddy-Daisy senior Jessica Cathey, who has committed to Austin Peay, shot a 73 and clipped George by one stroke Monday.
The friendly competitors both shot even on the front nine and went back and forth until Cathey stuck her third shot into the par-5 17th to within three feet of the hole and tapped in for birdie.
"Avery and I always play great together, and it was a good day of golf," said Cathey, who helped her team finish second with Ooltewah third. "I just tried to keep it in the fairway and on the green and maybe make a few birdies."
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...