This story was updated Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019, at 11:46 p.m. with more information.
MANCHESTER, Tenn. — Stepping up to the ninth and final tee box where his golf season came to a crushing end last season, Jonathan Xoinis was not going to let the previous setback hold him back.
The Chattanooga Christian School senior split the fairway with a booming drive nearly 340 yards on his way to closing a stellar runner-up performance at the Division II-AA state tournament at the WillowBrook Golf Club on Tuesday.
Xoinis finished his brilliant prep career by shooting 3-under-par 141 in the 36-hole tournament. He had dropped out of the top two in 2018 with a 9 on that par-4 closing ninth.
"I can tell I have become a much better golfer both mentally and physically since last year," said Xoinis, who had eight birdies, 23 pars and just five bogeys the two days and shot 2 under par in Tuesday's final round. "Last year I had a lot of longer shots I had to make, and now I noticed I had a lot more wedges.
"I went into this tournament knowing how to handle pressure better, too. I was really nervous going into the last hole because I wanted to shoot under par last year, but this year I knew how to finish. It was a good way to end high school golf for sure."
Xoinis jumped to a fast start on the back nine as he carded back-to-back birdies and made a 30-foot putt on hole No. 12. The UT-Martin commitment remained even the rest of the day to be one of just five in the field shooting under par.
Montgomery Bell Academy's Jaron Leasure set a TSSAA record with a 12-under showing, including a phenomenal round of 62 Tuesday.
"I don't look at being a golfer people look up to, but I have heard people say it before," said Xoinis, who won the last two City Prep championships. "I just try to represent my school the best I can on and off the course. My family was all here today, even our dog. They are a huge motivation to me, and I am very thankful."
Baylor School also had a strong finish led by a pair of sophomores with Kyndall Shamblin and Sheldon McKnight both finishing in third place.
McKnight went for the green in two on the par-5, 474-yard seventh hole, but the ball fell just off the left side of the green.
"Demi Dimatteo (senior teammate and Furman commitment) looked at me and said you need to make birdie here," McKnight said. "The next shot I just chipped it in. The three senior starters on this team taught me a lot this year about loyalty, brotherhood and how to be a good teammate. I am thankful for them and was glad to come up big in that moment."
McKnight led the field with two eagles, a rare feat that was also accomplished by Dalton Chuba and Dimatteo for the Red Raiders.
Baylor tied McCallie for third place in the boys' team title race as each shot 23 over par with the defending state champion Red Raiders shooting a 290 — 19 strokes better than day one.
"We fought for each other and it's been a fun ride," said Dimatteo, who tied for eighth individually with McCallie's Samuel Levine at 146. "We wanted to repeat, but we cheered for each other even when things didn't go well to start. Golf is a brotherhood and we stuck together."
Shamblin made perhaps the putt of the tournament for an 80-foot downhill birdie from just off the top side of the green on No. 16. She tied for the girls' lead with 23 pars and shot 4-over 148.
"I played against a lot of great golfers here this week," Shamblin said. "I feel like I am getting there, too. I have gained some length and I know I can grow a lot more. My putting still needs some work, but it was nice to hit that super long birdie putt. That fired me up."
Stephanie Xian and Preslee Yoder also helped Baylor become the girls' state runner-up behind St. Agnes, which shot 2 under for the tournament behind sisters Rachel and Anna Heck. Rachel Heck was the medalist at 8-under 136.
Thanks to a long putt by McCallie's Bennett McNabb on the final shot of the tournament, a tie was forced with Baylor on rivalry week between the two. McNabb tied for 11th at 147, while teammate Charles Warren shot 74 both days for a 14th- place finish.
With just one senior starter, the Blue Tornado are excited about the future ahead.
The Division I Small Class state championship will be held next Tuesday and Wednesday at WillowBrook, with the Division I Large Class the following week.
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.