In George Washington High golf coach B.J. Calabrese’s years in guiding the Patriots in the WVSSAC state golf championships at Wheeling’s Oglebay Park, he had never seen the wind whip they way it did Wednesday morning.
And while GW was able to tame those winds a little and shoot better than it did the first day, so did the one team ahead of it in the Class AAA team standings — Wheeling Park.
The Patriots improved by five shots as a team between Tuesday and Wednesday, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Park’s lead. George Washington finished as Class AAA runner-up behind WPHS, ending three shots back, 486-489. It was the second time in the last three seasons the Patriots finished in Class AAA’s top two, winning the state title in 2018.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Calabrese said. “They came in today with a great mindset. They were really attentive in our meeting last night and they battled all day long.”
For the rest of the area teams, the blustery conditions on the Speidel Golf Club’s Jones Course had a more adverse affect on their second-day scores. All of them shot higher on day two than day one. Cabell Midland finished the Class AAA meet in fourth place, while in Class AA, Herbert Hoover finished fifth and Winfield finished seventh to champion Shady Spring. St. Marys won the Class A title.
Those windy conditions forced golfers to be very aware of which clubs they were using, and the strategy varied from hole to hole depending on which way the wind was blowing.
“It was a major factor from the very first hole,” Calabrese said. “That wind really knocks the ball down. It’s really not taking the flight of the ball much left to right or right to left, but it’s really knocking the ball down.
“The club selection was really different from hole to hole and you had to be really careful what you were choosing.”
GW’s Anderson Goldman climbed a couple of spots in the individual standings, finishing three shots better on the course Wednesday to card a 76 and end up in third place. He was joined in the top 10 by Mario Palumbo, who made up seven shots on Wednesday and finished in a three-way tie for ninth. Austin Willard and Emma Nicol finished tied for 13th.
While there was some disappointment in finishing just a couple of shots back of a state title, Calabrese said there were plenty of silver linings. Kanawha County golf teams spent nearly a month on the sidelines, prohibited from competing due to COVID-19 restrictions in the county. Their first match back was their respective regional tournaments.
“We’re super glad we at least had the opportunity to come up and compete,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to come up and go up against the top teams.”
Golfers who finished among the top eight with ties earned all-state status. In Class AAA, that included Goldman and Cabell Midland’s Cameron Jarvis, who finished tied for fifth. In Class AA, that included Winfield’s Jackson Woodburn and Wayne’s Cole Kiley, who finished tied for sixth.