Stephen Saleeby walked off the 18th green at Raleigh Country Club with his Broughton teammates clapping and cheering for him.
Saleeby, a freshman, had just finished his first NCHSAA 4A Mideast Regional. He looked at his scorecard. He knew he had a good day, maybe even good enough to win. But in these high school events, the golfer doesn’t get true confirmation on his day until he looks at the big leader board.
When Saleeby gazed at the board for the first time Tuesday, no one had finished with his score: a 4-under-par 67.
“It was a great feeling,” Saleeby said. “To see all my teammates rooting for me was pretty cool. They were really supportive of me.”
He said he won by keeping his swing steady against tough winds throughout the day. He also made five consecutive birdies from the eighth hole through the 12th.
“I wanted to keep playing well after each one,” Saleeby said.
He wasn’t the only Cap to do well.
Broughton continued its impressive season by winning the team portion of the event with a score of 286. The Caps, who won the Cap Eight 4A Conference regular-season title, beat Green Hope by 13 strokes.
Millbrook, which also qualified for the state championship next week at Pinehurst Country Club, finished third with 303.
Three of Broughton’s top four golfers were freshmen. Along with Saleeby, freshman Preyer Fountain (72), senior George Kilgore (73) and freshman Will Minton (74) shot their usual scores.
The Caps celebrated their victory even before the officials announced it. All six golfers sat around a table near the pro shop as the rest of the scores were being put up on the leader board.
The Caps were laughing and telling jokes. Their parents were taking photos of them.
And their coach, Anderson Marlowe, was near the team on his iPhone to tell people about the good news.
“We have so many good guys on our team,” said Saleeby, as all six of Broughton’s golfers made the all-conference team. “We push each other to play better.”
Another freshman who had his best round of the season was Millbrook’s Stephen Franken.
He led the Wildcats with a 1-under-par 70. Franken tied Ben Griffin of East Chapel Hill for second place.
To begin his round, Franken, a member of the Raleigh Country Club, birdied five of his first nine holes. He also said he played with an illness. He was not only surprised by his performance, but also by those of his teammates.
The Wildcats didn’t think they would reach the state championship earlier this year.
“I came out for my team, and we were able to pull it through,” Franken said. “We really didn’t change anything. We just went out there and played well.”
Griffin, a sophomore, had his best moment of the day on the ninth hole when he made a 10-foot putt for his first birdie.
Griffin also felt pressure to return to the state championship. That’s because he won the individual title last season as a freshman at Pinehurst Country Club.
“I really just tried to hit the greens well and keep it in play,” Griffin said. “There’s no way to really tell how far behind or ahead you are. You’re just trying to go low.”