The serenity of wide open spaces at Canaan Valley Resort Golf Course enabled the Yellow Jackets to drive off the tee and soar like birdies to the green with ease finishing with stellar putting to claim the third consecutive Class A Region II Golf Championship last Monday in Tucker County and earning a return ticket to the WVSSAC state golf tournament in Wheeling on October 6-7.
It was a birdie kind of day as the Yellow Jackets chirped and chipped to the holes with precision for the Region II title finishing with a team total card of 243 led by junior second-seed Ryan McGregor mastering the Tucker County terrain with a low-medalist card of 77 (37-41) for the 18-hole course (15-stroke improvement from 2019 region championship) guiding the Yellow Jackets to the victory and the second best total of the tournament, followed by sophomore top-seed J.J. Carr who shaved off six strokes from last year for a total of 82 (41-41), junior fourth-seed Karson Reed garnered a card of 84 (43-41) and senior third-seed Hayden Baldwin rounded out the quartet with 91 strokes (46-45).
The championship total for the Yellow Jackets was 25 strokes ahead of runner-up Notre Dame at 268 and both of these top two teams will advance to Oglebay Resort along with the two qualifying individual low-medalists of the day who were Tygarts Valley’s Andrew Holbrook (73 – best overall score) and South Harrison’s Ethan Titus (84).
The Class A Region II Golf Championship team results were: 1.) Moorefield 243, 2.) Notre Dame 268, 3.) South Harrison 292, 4.) Pendleton County 322, 5.) Petersburg 334 and 6.) Trinity Christian 343. The remaining competing schools fielded individual players without team scores: Clay-Battelle, Tucker County, Tygarts Valley and Union.
“It is really good. I am really proud of these guys. This is one of the lowest scores we’ve had in a regional. The guys were really focused last week and really focused this morning. We came in with the idea that we would set individual goals for ourselves. We had a couple chances this year to come up and practice on this course. I am really proud of these guys. Their mental focus was fantastic today,” Moorefield Golf coach Wade Armentrout commented.
“Karson [Reed] shot one of his best rounds today and the other three guys did very well. I am happy for them and for Hayden [Baldwin] being a senior to have the chance to go back to Wheeling. For Ryan [McGregor] and J.J. [Carr], they have been there before and played the course before, so it will be exciting to go with a different mentality than what we have in the past. Last year, the process was new to these guys and now we will go and put our best effort into competing. I could really tell this morning how
confident Ryan was in himself, because his body language was real positive. I knew that would really equate to a good score for him and he started off well today with the first nine holes being fantastic. It was his best nine-hole outing of the season and he carried that over to the back-nine. We have talked to him about this being the time of year to be playing your best. These guys really deserve this opportunity, because they work hard and the preparation has been great. This is a great group and they are very coachable. I am very happy for them.”
Finding the way to Wheeling has been commonplace for the Yellow Jackets having a representative at the state tournament every year since 2007 and for the past two decades winning the Class A Region II title eight times.
There had been some days this season where holes would get the best of McGregor, but he learned to remain calm and to really focus on each stroke as the concentration level at Canaan Valley was dialed in for the optimal results not letting emotions or mistakes overwhelm the goal which led to having three birdies on the day.
McGregor preferred the shorter holes with par-3 designation, but his favorite one was hole three which had a par-5 rating with a distance of 473 yards.
The four shortest holes which each golfer played with good strokes were hole four at 214 yards, hole six at 194 yards (shortest overall), hole 12 at 256 yards and hole 16 at 233 yards.
“It is a really good feeling. I played my best round of the year. I like Canaan Valley, because it is long and straight with no trees,” Moorefield junior Ryan McGregor remarked.
“My favorite was hole number three, a short and straight par-5. It was reachable in two and an easy birdie. I had three birdies today. I had a really good hole number nine.”
Canaan Valley featured three holes with a distance over 500 yards: hole nine – 573 yards, hole 14 – 519 yards, hole 17 – 537 yards.
There was at least one sand trap (hazard) on each hole throughout the course, while nine was the most challenging with water leading up the green with four sand bunkers along the outer border of the green just behind the hole plus another one that was at the turn in the fairway.
Most of the holes were fairly straight, but the sand traps gave extra grit for the golfers to contend, especially on the 13th hole with five of them encompassing the green.
Coach Armentrout was there to give McGregor some pointers before hitting over the water on the 16th hole and they both had a smile on their faces knowing the day had been a good one.
The water was picturesque along with the mountains surrounding the golf course and there were five holes that required the golfers to launch the ball over top starting at number nine and ten and the final three holes of the course.
Baldwin can hammer home runs during the baseball season, so this type of golf course layout was to his benefit treating it like a batting practice, making the balls launch to the fairway from the tee shot with an unobstructed flight.
“It is special to me, because this is my last year. I am glad we got to do it together. For me, I am a slicer, so I like how this course is wide open. That was an advantage for me as it was long and straight. I just loved the par-3’s. This means a lot. I think we’ve earned this trip to Wheeling. I’d like to play through, being my last time as a senior at Moorefield High School,” Moorefield senior Hayden Baldwin stated.
Carr was steady on his approach shots and was patient in finding the correct angle for hitting the ball to the destination.
“It feels very good. We have been working very hard this year to reach this goal. To come away with the region title is such a good feeling. Now we have to go off to state and hopefully do good up there. It is a really good feeling to represent Moorefield and our team has been playing really well this year. If we can continue to hit the ball long and straight, then we should be able to make some noise at state this year. Here at Canaan Valley, for as long as I can hit the ball far out, it really benefits our game, especially our team. I like how open it is to hit on the fairways. You can get the ball on the green in regulation. Hole seven was my favorite, an easy par-4,” Moorefield sophomore J.J. Carr said.
Reed kept his head level with solid swings and showed good resolve on the greens to complete the putting.
“It feels really good to win two in a row. I like this course, because it is really wide open and very hard to miss the fairway. Hole 16 was my favorite, I really liked the water. I hit for par on it. I am really excited to represent Moorefield in Wheeling and glad I get a chance to play in it this year. This has been a fun adventure,” Moorefield junior Karson Reed noted.
The time and effort put forth in each practice and match has yielded positive results for the Yellow Jackets as the goal of reaching the state tournament was accomplished and the sky is the limit flying to the final round in Wheeling with the opportunity for winning a state championship.
Anthony Rogers led the Irish (268) with a card of 78, followed by Patrick Mehr 87, Gabe Urso 103 and Karlie Minigh 107.
South Harrison (292) was paced by Ethan Titus with 84, followed by Dakota McNemar 93, Luke Messenger 114 and Zach Carpenter 117.
Pendleton County (322) was guided by Tanner Townsend 101, followed by Braydon Beachler 106, Cameron Beachler 115 and Marshall Harper 122.
Petersburg (334) was led by Dakota Parsons 101, followed by Samantha Colaw 112, Bryson Riggleman 121 and Kadin Tinney 139.
Trinity Christian (343) was paced by Will Hancox and Ryan Cummings T-114, followed by Will McPherson 115 and Jaclyn Smith 121.
The individual scores for the remaining field of schools were: Clay-Battelle – Tucker Wilson 148, Kyndra Stewart 163, Lexie Thomas N/A; Tucker County – Harper Russell 85 and Wyatt Better 100; Tygarts Valley – Andrew Holbrook 73, and Union – Peyton Haines 142.
The Yellow Jackets have experience at the state tournament from last season as Carr competed in both rounds (198), while Baldwin (108) and McGregor (100) both participated for one day apiece.
Moorefield Golf alternates for the state tournament will be junior Will Barb, sophomore Isaac Rumer and freshman James Williams.
The Yellow Jackets placed eighth overall last season at Oglebay Resort with a team total of 605, while the defending state champion St. Marys scored 532 points and will be joining Moorefield once again on the course.
Moorefield will be paired up at the state tournament with golfers from St. Marys, Sherman and Pocahontas County on opening day which was yesterday (October 6).