Golf title drought ends for Patriots
WHEELING — After the final scores were posted, George Washington coach B.J. Calabrese, the mastermind behind GW’s newly minted “master plan” stepped out of the crowd surrounding the scoring table and took a deep breath and a long swig from a bottle of Aquafina.
Maybe it was fitting, celebrating the end of a long drought with some water.
The Patriots showed their depth one final time, using a second-day total of 227 to hold off hard-charging Washington to win the Class AAA state golf championship on the Jones Course at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling on Wednesday.
GW’s two-day total of 448, bested defending-champ Washington by five shots as a round-two rally by the Patriots from the Eastern Panhandle fell just short.
“The drought is over,” Calabrese said. “It’s been a long drought for the school, and that’s unfortunate, but it’s over. We really did have a master plan to get to this point and win it, and, in hindsight, it worked.”
Part of that plan was steady play up and down the GW lineup, embodied by No. 1 player Joseph Kalaskey, who two-putted from 30 feet on the 18th hole to hold off Washington’s Christian Boyd to take individual medalist honors. Kalaskey followed his even-par 70 on Tuesday with a 1-over 71 on Wednesday and was consistent in the face of the adversity the Jones Course inevitably presents every year.
Standing in the 18th fairway still unsure of the status of his team, Kalaskey, who was in the final AAA group, asked Calabrese of his standing against Boyd. Knowing he needed par, the junior did just what he needed to do to finish off a clean sweep for GW.
“I thought Boyd shot 1-under, so I just hit a stock 9-iron and it was pretty good,” Kalaskey said. “I was kind of nervous but I knew (the putt) was breaking left and the speed so it was kind of a simple putt. I just kind of hit it and it turned out pretty good.”
Wednesday’s result once and for all served as a bit of redemption for George Washington on a course that has been a house of horrors for most teams making the trek north.
GW’s lone loss of the season came to Washington on the Jones Course all the way back on Aug. 2, a tournament in which George Washington held a sizable lead but wilted down the stretch to allow Washington to sneak past with a one-stroke win.
In a fit of painful deja vu, especially for Calabrese, who won his first golf title since 2001 as a coach for Charleston Catholic, Washington again was breathing down GW’s neck heading down the final nine despite a lackluster team total of 238 on Tuesday that put the team in a big hole.
Washington improved that total by 23 shots on Wednesday, shooting a stellar 215 and dropping a 74 (the top three of four scores count toward a team’s total with the worst being dropped). That was highlighted by Boyd’s 69.
But this time around, GW, backed by solid supportive rounds again (John Logan Taylor shot 76 and Colt Gillispie 80), held on and will bring back a couple of pieces of new hardware to Charleston.
“It’s an awesome feeling for the kids, they really played well for two days,” Calabrese said. “Hedgesville made a run yesterday and Washington shot a phenomenal score today, but the kids were resilient. That’s one thing I have to commend this team about, they mentally got tougher this year. Their mental toughness is so much better this year than it was last year and even at the beginning of the year.”
As for the grand plan Calabrese installed and his team bought into this season? It involved embracing the state tournament location that has become a source of debate and downright ire for some.
“We get so caught up on having to travel up here and play on this course, which is such a mentally and physically demanding course,” Calabrese said. “Certain schools that play on this course a lot have sort of a home-course advantage. And, unlike other sports, golf courses are unique and do make a difference.
“We felt like we’ve had teams that could win it previously, but we’d come up and finish second or third or fourth. Last year on the way back I was really frustrated and I thought, ‘You know what, we’re going to come into it with a positive mindset and we’re going to tell them, If you want to be the best, you’ve got to play on one of the best courses against the best competition regardless of the other circumstances.’ And we also challenged them those first three weeks, going to every and any tournament we could find.”
The top eight and ties earn all-state honors in each class and joining Kalaskey (141), Boyd (142) and Taylor (149) on that team were Washington’s Christopher Neighbors (150), Wheeling Park’s Ryan Payne (151), Hedgesville’s Camden Rebuck (151) and individual qualifiers Caleb Osborne of Preston (149), Jackson Hill of Woodrow Wilson (150) and Zach Redmon of Parkersburg South (150).
Wheeling Park snuck past Hedgesville to finish third with a team score of 469 and the Eagles finished fourth at 470.
Hurricane’s Sam White finished the tournament with a 164 and Riverside’s Gage Pauley came in at 179.
For the first time since 2008, a medalist honor went to a playoff with PikeView’s Carson Proffitt edging Fairmont Senior’s Clark Craig on the third extra hole.
The two shot matching 3-over 143s. But that wasn’t the only drama in the classification as Westside overcame a 3-shot deficit entering Wednesday to claim a six-stroke victory over Grafton to win the team championship. It marked the first state golf championship in school history. Joining Proffitt and Clark on the all-state team were individual qualifiers Nick Fleming of Petersburg (144) and Todd Duncan of Shady Spring (156) as well as the Renegades’ Dawson Browning (151) and Caleb Cook (156), the Bearcats’ Kolbe Kimbrew (153) and Chris Miller (156) and North Marion’s Michael Harris (154).
Winfield finished seventh out of eight teams with a twoday score of 582. Chase Milbee, who fired an opening-round 76, carded an 89 on Wednesday.
While Westside earned a comeback win in Class AA, Wheeling Central only reiterated the statement it made on Tuesday as it raced past the field with a two-day total of 486 to claim the small-school state championship.
The Maroon Knights bested defending champion Ravenswood by 24 shots with Charleston Catholic coming in third at 536.
Central’s Derrick Harrison (152) won medalist honors in leading the Knights to a state crown and was joined by teammate J.C. Maxwell (168) on the all-state team. Also making the cut were Magnolia’s Trey Blain (153), Ravenswood’s Ciah Kennedy (159), Williamstown’s Xavier Cauthers (164) and individual qualifiers David Gibb (157) and Gareth Ryder (162) of Pocahontas County and Parkersburg Catholic’s Bryce Moore (161).
The Irish was led by Jack Cimino, who shot a two-day 173.