PINEHURST — The East Wilkes Cardinals golf team placed fifth in the 1A North Carolina High School Athletic Association state championship at Pinehurst No. 6 on Monday and Tuesday.
The Cardinals finished with a two-day total of 717. After the first round, East Wilkes stood in seventh place with a total of 370. The team cut 23 strokes off that total in the second round to post a 347.
The Community School of Davidson won the 1A team title with a two-round total of 661.
This was the first time the East Wilkes Golf team had qualified for the NCHSAA team championship since 1993, and the fourth time in school history. The 1989 Cardinals won the state 1A title.
After Tuesday’s round, East Wilkes Head Coach Barry Bryd discussed his team’s season and their success in the NCHSAA championship.
“Coming into the season, I knew with the seniors I had returning, I felt we could get to the regionals as a team. We were peaking at the conference tournament and the regionals,” said Byrd. “Then when we ended up tying for the regional championship, that was a huge accomplishment — it was an emotional thing for the boys.”
Huston Hall led East Wilkes with rounds of 89 and 85 for a total of 174 — good enough for the 27th best individual score. Hall edged his teammate Jais Norman, who shot rounds of 90 and 85, by a single stroke.
Micah Caudill posted two rounds of 90 for a 180 total. Mason Absher cut 20 strokes off his first day total of 107 to post an 87 for a two-day total of 194. McKennon Byrd shot 101 and 95 for a total of 196.
“Yesterday (Monday) we started off really good. About an hour into the round, the wind started picking up and the boys started to hit some errant tee shots. Down here with the out of bounds so close errant tee shots leads to big number and all of our guys had some big numbers yesterday,” said Barry Byrd. “The guys came into today’s round with a good mindset. Everyone improved today and that’s what we wanted to do. That‘s all I could ask for, I am proud of that; the top 12 teams in the state are here and we are one of them.”
The Cardinals will graduate three seniors this year. Norman, Caudill and McKennon Byrd and Barry Byrd discussed the impact these players have had on the program.
“Jais has been to the state three times now. Micah finally made it to the state this year. He has been so close every year, missed it by one or two shots for the last three years,” said Byrd. “McKennon improved so much from his junior to his senior year. He didn’t make the travel squad as a junior but he worked hard and really improved.”
Caudill, one of the Cardinal seniors, discussed the Cardinals’ season.
“It was the best season of my four years, everybody played consistently. I felt the seconnd place finish in the conference behind a strong Wilkes Central team was as good as we could have done,” said Caudill. “We felt we could go to the regionals and advance to the state but to win the regionals was a real shocker for us — that was a first for East Wilkes. The state tournament was so much fun for everybody. We were all pleased with the fifth place finish. We made a good showing and made everybody, our parents, our coaches and our community proud.”
The 2A state championships was held in Pinehurst at the Longleaf Golf Course and Wilkes Central’s Quinton Metz had a great representation for the Eagles.
Metz, who qualified as an individual at the Western Regional golf tournament last week, tied for ninth place with rounds 78 and 76 to finish with a 154.
“(It’s) crazy to think I played my last 18 holes of my high school golf career today,” said Metz. “I didn’t convert on a lot of opportunities today but that’s golf. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to the state with our team this year. Big thanks to (Head Coach David Brooks), my teammates and my very supportive friends and family.”
Despite Metz’s disappointment, Brooks was pleased with all that Metz has accomplished, not only this spring, but over the past four years.
Metz, who will join his brother Chandler and Zach Caudill on the men’s golf team at Western Carolina, has been a four-time All-Mountain Valley Athletic Conference golfer, the conference player of the year, regional gold medalist, regional silver medalist, won three conference championships and two state championships.
“I am extremely proud of what all Quinton has accomplished in his high school golf career. He is up there with the most decorated athletes at WCHS,” said Brooks. “This weekend didn’t quite go as well as he was hoping. I was proud of the way he played, and how he competed. I’m excited to see how he takes his next step into college golf. I think he has the competitive edge in him to be really successful at Western Carolina.”