A trio representing Knightdale’s boys golf team saw a short but sweet postseason come to an end at Tuesday’s regional golf tournament at Raleigh Country Club.
Knights senior Justin Smith, who was fourth in the Greater Neuse River Conference in 2013 and 10th this year, ended a steady high school career with a round of 90 on the Donald Ross course. He was joined by teammates Shawn Simpson (94), a junior, and senior Jordan Bellamy (104) in the regional.
The team from Broughton was relaxed entering the regional round. The course, where the Caps have now won three consecutive regional titles, was a familiar one, and the players knew how hard it could be to perform under pressure.
After winning the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A boys golf title in 2012, the Caps fell short last year, finishing fourth in the state tournament.
Broughton’s team score of 291 Tuesday was easily enough to put the team back into the state tournament field heading into next week’s NCHSAA 4A championship.
“We’re ready to go back this year,” Broughton coach Anderson Marlowe said. “We’re excited because last year we came in as defending champions and had a little extra pressure on us. This year we’re not going to have that. My guys are excited. They’re ready to get back in there. They played great today. We weren’t expecting our margin of victory to be this big, but they played so well that we’re very excited going in. That’s good momentum for us.”
The Caps were the only team to finish with a score of less than 300. Millbrook finished second at 309 and Green Hope third with 314 to also advance to the state tournament.
Millbrook was led by NCHSAA 4A Mideast regional medalist Thomas Eldridge, who shot a two-under par 69.
“The course was playing really tough,” Eldridge said. “I thought the greens were really fast, but they were really nice. ... I feel like I hit the ball well, so I think I put myself in good position. It feels really good (to be back in the state tournament after Millbrook fell short in 2013). That was one of our main goals – to get back to the state championship. We definitely had the talent to do that, but it was just a matter of doing what we needed to do.”
Wake Forest’s Alex Smalley qualified as an individual for Monday and Tuesday’s state championship at Carolina Trace Country Club in Sanford, shooting 71, along with Panther Creek’s Viraj Garewal and Wakefield’s Cole Ray, who both shot 75.
Preyer Fountain led Cap Eight champion Broughton with a 70, and teammates Will Minton and Harrison Rhoades were close behind at 72. Stephen Saleeby rounded out the Caps’ top four with a 77.
“Last year we did put a lot of pressure on ourselves. ... I feel like we’ve all gotten better and more comfortable in pressure situations,” Fountain said.
Millbrook’s Stephen Franken (75), Bryce Hailey (82) and Adam Gross (83) rounded out the top scorers for the Cap Eight runner-up Wildcats.
SWAC champion Green Hope was led by Zack Daltorio (77), Brian Chen (78), Kevin Wiles (79) and Timmy Leonard and Rob McPartland (80) as the Falcons return to the state tournament. Mike Siek rounded out the team, shooting an 82.
“Going back to the states is always real nice to do,” Green Hope coach Michael Robinson said. “We missed it last year and the guys have worked really hard to get back to the states. ... All of (the teams at states) are good. If they were not good, they would not get there. The competition is one through (12) anyone could win the state championship. We’re just happy and proud to be one of them.”