Walker Valley's boys' golf team made its third consecutive TSSAA state tournament appearance this week, and Cleveland girls' golfer Rheagan Hall made her fourth appearance as an individual. And while both had their best finish compared to previous seasons, neither won the ultimate prize.
The Mustangs ended up third in the Large Class state tournament with a total score of 597 after the second day of play Wednesday at WillowBrook in Manchester. Hall tied for fifth individually with a 147.
Boys' team champion Halls held a seven-shot lead at 291 after the first round, then registered a 278 Wednesday for a 7-under par total and wound up 26 strokes ahead of runner-up Hendersonville (595). The Knoxville program was led by medalist Ryan Hall's 131.
"I thought we had a chance at second most of the day," Walker Valley coach Bob Williams said. "On the back side, there were a couple of holes where it got away from us and Hendersonville got back ahead of us. We got up by as much as eight or nine on them and then gave them back."
The Mustangs were led in this year's tournament by senior Parker Gray, who went from shooting 76 in the first round to 71 in the second. He tied for eighth, as did Cleveland senior Drew Linkous, who competed as an individual.
Walker Valley's other seniors are Cade Puryear, who was the District 5 and Region 3 medalist this year, and Nick McCracken, whose 70 was the Mustangs' best first-day score. They and sophomore transfer Dalton Sutton all ended up in a 10-way tie for 17th at 150.
"Those seniors have been such an important part of our program for four years," Williams said. "Nick, Cade and Parker have been playing with us since day one. This was our best finish in school history. We were fourth in 2008. And this was our lowest score. I'm really happy for our guys."
Houston won the girls' team championship with a 290, finishing 13 strokes ahead of second-place Farragut. Franklin County senior Malia Stovall (138) shot 6 under the first day, lowered her score another stroke Wednesday and won the individual title by seven shots.
Hall improved her state tournament score and standing each year throughout her prep career, starting with tying for 14th as a freshman. She finished 10th as a sophomore and eighth last season.
Cleveland coach Nick Cantrell said Hall's improvement can be directly linked with playing throughout the year, and he also said it helps that she's competitive and has the ability to put a bad hole behind her quickly. She was champion in the City Prep, District 5 and Region 3 tournaments this season.
"I've had her for four years, been at the high school for 10 years, and she's easily been my best golfer," Cantrell said. "She might be one of the most decorated in the entire area. Not only did she go to state all four years, she got better every year. That's nice to see. She has represented our school well."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter @KelleySmiddie.