WHEELING - The Ritchie County golfers can sense a second straight Class AA state championship.
During Tuesday's first round at Speidel Golf Club at Oglebay Park, the Rebels shot 16 strokes better at this same stage a year ago and created an eight-stroke gap between themselves and the rest of the field.
Taking the three lowest of four individual scores, Ritchie County posted a 235. Poca follows in second place at 243, while Chapmanville and Shady Spring are tied for third at 255.
Ritchie County senior Ryan Carpenter turned in the low individual round for Class AA with a 75 during Tuesday’s first round of the state golf tournament in Wheeling. (Photo courtesy of Josh Strope)
"We just need to take care of business again (on Wednesday)," Ritchie County coach Ted VanScoy said. "If we can come back and repeat, or even come close to what we did on Tuesday then Poca has to do something they are not capable of. I like our chances."
Ritchie County senior Ryan Carpenter set the pace after shooting the low round for his division after carding a 75. Also in the running for all-state honors are teammates Sydney Snodgrass (79), Josh Metz (81) and Jordan Shaffer (84).
"I struggled to start off the day and couldn't putt very well," Carpenter said. "But I battled back with a birdie or two and that got my confidence going. I started to strike the ball well today.
"As a team, we're pretty pumped for Wednesday. We like where we're at."
In the individual standings, Bluefield's Evan Smith trails Carpenter by three strokes after turning in a 78. Snodgrass is tied with two golfers from Poca (George Hamrick and Travis Covert) for third place, while Metz is in sixth place. Shaffer has to climb one spot in order to make the top 10 for all-state recognition.
As for the rest of the Mid-Ohio Valley contingent, Parkersburg (Class AAA) and Williamstown (Class A) were hoping to make a serious challenge in their respective divisions. However, that didn't materialize as PHS fell into a fourth-place tie with Cabell Midland at 250. Williamstown is tied with Madonna for second place at 253, but Charleston Catholic has bolted out to an 18-stroke cushion.
"We had a bad day," Williamstown coach Russ Schramm said. "I was hoping we could at least stay close and have a shot on the second day. It's not impossible, but it's unlikely."
Williamstown senior Austin Root took nearly as many strokes on the putting green (40) as he did off the green during his round of 81. Despite his troubles around the hole, Root is still in contention for medalist honors. Charleston Catholic owns the top two positions in that regard behind Christian Casignal (76) and Aaron Persily (78). Lurking in the shadows is Parkersburg Catholic senior Tyler Cardenas at 79.
Yellowjackets' Alex Roach (84) needs a solid round to keep his all-state hopes alive. The senior is currently tied for seventh place. Monty Parkins (88) and Mac McCormick (98) capped the scoring for Williamstown.
"For our seniors, the pressure is off - now they can go out and have fun, and shoot the best round they can," Schramm added.
Competing as an individual and not a member of a qualifying team, Wirt County's Darrin Roberts finished with a 107.
For PHS, moving up the ladder of the team standings is its goal heading into today's action. Wheeling Park essentially has the title wrapped up at 217, while Bridgeport is second at 235. George Washington follows at 244, while the Big Reds and Cabell Midland are tied for fifth at 250.
"Can we make up 15 strokes and get second place - yes, that's doable," PHS coach Don Snider said. "I'm not mad, but I am disappointed because I thought we would play a little better."
PHS senior Alan Cooke is tied for sixth place after shooting a 78 and trails Wheeling Park's Thadd Obecny by nine strokes.
Schramm monitored yesterday's foursome which included Cooke and Obency.
"Thadd was pretty impressive," Schramm said. "While Alan missed several putts he felt he should have made, Thadd was just the opposite. There were big breakers and he read them perfectly. I enjoyed watching him play."
Rounding out the rest of the PHS scoring were Mason Humphrey (86), Ryan Anderson (86) and Michael Katchur (95).
Parkersburg South junior Trent McCutcheon has some ground to make up in terms of all-state consideration after he shot an 82, which was good for 14th place.
In Class AA, Roane County slipped into a tie for sixth place at 265. Representing the Raiders were Alston Spears (84), Hunter Simmons (89), Forrest Greenlee (92) and Quentin Corbitt (100).
"I was hoping to be a little lower," Roane County coach Jim Kendall said. "We still have a second day, so we are not counting anybody out."