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A learning experience / October 12, 2009
The improving HCHS golf program ran into a dose of reality Thursday. The Comets, back in the Northwest regional with a full team entry for the first time in the David Graham era, finished last in the eight-team field.

Nevertheless, this proved to be a worthwhile trip for the Comets. “We got a lot of good experience,” said Graham Friday.

Halifax had two quality scores. Cody Spencer fired an 82, and barely missed an individual state berth. “Going to the state took an 81. It would be a playoff at 81 and he missed that by one shot,” said Graham.

Coy Lawson also had a good round with an 84. Both had good rounds, because the regionals were played on a very challenging course.

The regional competition was played on The Piedmont Club in Haymarket.

Graham noted none of the Comets had been in the postseason, except for T.J. Daniel. Golfers like Kaitlin Fallen, Cody Spencer and Daniel will return next year to bolster the program.

Daniel had a challenging round, finishing with a 99. Tayler Tepper fired a 101. Fallen had a 112 and Blake Jones fired a 120.

The Comets discovered postseason golf gets a bit tougher at the regional level.

“That’s why I say, it’s great experience. They were not prepared mentally.

The golf course was very, very challenging and the level of play was a little higher than what we’ve played day to day,” said Graham.

Graham believes the Comets will be more prepared next time at the regionals. “Just understanding what it’s going to take to move up to the next level. I think everyone got a good dose of that.

“We even had kids who wanted to practice today, even though the season was over,” said Graham. “That’s excellent.”

The other WVD entry, Franklin County, posted a 340, good for fourth in the regionals.

FCHS’ got counted scores from Josh Neal (81); Matt Searing (84); Shane Lester (87); and Ethan Dudley (88). Neal qualified for state through a playoff. He is the only golfer from the Western Valley District who will be playing in the Group AAA state tournament Oct. 19-20 at The Waterfront Country Club on Smith Mountain Lake.

Graham is very optimistic about next season.

The veteran HCHS coach expects to have a base of five solid golfers back in 2010. With a few more additions from the ranks of the upcoming golfers in the overall program, HCHS could – and should – be even better than it was this season.

“I’m looking to have a solid team from the first (player) all the way to the sixth (man) and then try to ride on this experience,” said Graham.

Because the Comets made the regionals, Fallen also qualified for the girls’ state golf tournament at Virginia Beach Oct. 26, 27. . This will give her two more days of playing experience competing against the best prep golfers in the state.

“It really was a great year for us, even though our scores didn’t indicate that in the regionals. We got more out of the regionals than just those scores,” said Graham.

The Comets finished eighth, with a team score of 366. Loudon Valley won the regional, and Battlefield was second. Both squads advance to the state Group AAA tourney.

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