BY JESSE SMITHEY
Tuesday proved to be a productive day for the CAK and Kingston golf teams during the final round of the 2022 TSSAA State Golf Championships. And their female counterparts didn’t do too shabby, either.
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KINGSTON BOYS REPEATS IN CLASS A
Will Bacon’s putter didn’t seem to get the memo Tuesday that the Kingston boys’ golf team was trying to repeat as Class A state champion for the second time in program history.
But it eventually got the message.
Bacon, a junior, fought off a balky putter in the early going to shoot a final-round, 1-over 73 and his third-place finish helped Kingston win its second consecutive Class A state championship at Sevierville Golf Club’s River Course.
The Yellow Jackets struggled to a 27-over 315 score on Day One but improved that by 11 strokes Tuesday, and its 43-over 619 winning mark cleared runner-up Signal Mountain by 13 shots.
Stewart County led Kingston by one shot after Monday’s first round but stumbled to a 323 on Tuesday. Kingston shot 304.
The Yellow Jackets now have four boys state golf championships all-time, all earned on repeats. The first two came in 1999-2000.
“It was awesome to be back in this environment again this year and capitalize for the second time,” said Bacon. “It was a very fun trip with all of my teammates, coaches, and family. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
But Bacon’s start certainly didn’t forecast the day to come.
He had a 6-foot birdie putt on the difficult par-4 first and wound up four-putting for a double bogey. The next hole, his simple tap-in for bogey did a 360 loop around the cup and didn’t drop. Another double.
Bacon didn’t fret, though.
He made a couple birdies on the front and an eagle on the back nine. He birdied the last to cap a wild ride — but fruitful one, too.
His rounds of 72 and 73 were four shots back of individual champion Jason Cole Campbell of Summertown (3-under 141).
“I hit the ball good pretty much the whole day and made a birdie on 3 and 5 to get things turned around,” said Bacon. “Had another double on 8 due to putting, but birdied 10, eagled 15 and birdied 18.”
Kingston senior Blake Woody rebounded from a tough opening round of 81 with a 73 Tuesday. He kick-started Kingston’s charge with a 3-under start through 10 holes in the final round. He wound up solo 12th on the individual leaderboard.
Senior Will Mioduski (80-80) and freshman Ethan Arnesan (82-78) each tied for 20th for Kingston.
Alcoa finished sixth out of eight teams but had two golfers finish in the Top 10, individually. Riley Parsons (73-80) and Noah Whitten (79-84) each tied for ninth at 9-over 153.
South Greene’s Kolben Gregg placed fourth (73-75—148).
CAK BOYS CONTINUE DIVISION II-A DOMINANCE
The Christian Academy of Knoxville golf dynasty just continued its growth Tuesday.
The Warriors’ sixth consecutive state championship maybe didn’t come as easy as last year’s fifth, but the Warriors’ youth-laden roster found the fortitude to prevail — and now looks set up to possibly win a few more in the coming years.
CAK sophomore Cooper Russell shot rounds of 74 and 73 to tie for the individual lead in Division II-A — he fell on the second playoff hole for the solo title — and he and the rest of the Warriors fended off Battle Ground Academy by nine shots, 610-619, to win state.
CAK shot rounds of 19-over 307 and 15-over 303 to get the job done.
“Really glad to win and very proud of the team,” said Cooper Russell. “We came into this with the expectation to take it one hole and one shot at a time, and we did exactly that. Our team has a great bond, and we’re truly friends who compete with each other and push each other.
“Also, I am so thankful for how much (coach) Donnie (Cooper) has done for us this year and what a great leader he has been for this team.”
Bryson White tied for sixth, firing a final-round 74 to finish at 7-over 151. White, too, is a sophomore at CAK.
CAK freshman Blake Russell finished 11th (76-78), and eighth-grader Tanner Varney (80-78, T16) steadied his ship on the final stretch to help the cause. He shot even par on the final eight holes to help clinch the title.
Maryville Apostolic sophomore Collin Keino flirted in the early going Tuesday with the individual lead but ultimately finished two shots back of Cooper Russell and eventual champion Eliot Brashear (BGA).
A promising lefty, Keino shot 75-74 in his first-ever TSSAA state tournament. Keep an eye on his career.
First Baptist Academy (Powell, Tenn.) made its TSSAA state debut, claiming sixth. Cooper Roberts paced the Eagles with his tie for 13th (80-77). Lane Stokes was 18th (83-76).
Landen Dyer of Berean Christian was 21st at 161. He shot 78 Tuesday.
KINGSTON GIRLS ALMOST CLAIM CLASS A TITLE
The Kingston girls’ golf program put on a fierce rally Tuesday at Sevierville Golf Club’s Highlands Course. And while they couldn’t complete the dramatic comeback for a state title, they’re definitely trending towards one in 2023.
Kingston improved its first-round play by 11 shots on Tuesday, and its 2-over 142 team total in the final round was the day’s best in Class A girls’ play.
But the Lady Yellow Jackets’ 15-over 295 team total for the tournament wound up three shots shy of Summertown, which won its fifth title in a row.
Kailey Lane led the charge for Kingston on Day Two, firing a stout 2-under 68. She started 3 under through seven holes and didn’t let a double bogey at the par-4 12th derail her day. She answered right back with a birdie at the par-3 13th and finished with all pars the rest of the way.
Her 68, paired with her first-round 73, place her in solo third (1-over 141).
Lane is just a junior, as is Kingston’s A-player Brylee Crouse. And while Crouse didn’t have her A-game this week, she rebounded from an opening-round 80 with a hard-earned 74 Tuesday.
Crouse birdied four of her final 10 holes Tuesday to offset an ill-timed triple and to help give Kingston a shot at the team crown. She finished fourth overall.
Individually, Ole Miss commitment Sophie Linder won her fourth consecutive state championship, beating Summertown’s Karlie Campbell with a birdie on the first playoff hole.
Campbell eagled the final hole to shoot 69 and force the playoff at 8-under 132 with Linder, who signed for a pair of 66s this week.
As for Kingston, they finished third place in 2021, some 35 shots off the winning pace. Lane shot two rounds in the 80s that week.
This year, Kingston closed the gap big time; however, Summertown returns its entire roster for 2023, as well.
Buckle up. This Kingston vs. Summertown showdown next fall should be fun.
CAK GIRLS OFFER PROMISE IN DIVISION II-A
The CAK girls’ team needed a final-day rally to have any shot at a title.
And while the Lady Warriors — who trailed by 15 shots after the first round — did play better on Tuesday, they still remained in fifth place in a tough field.
CAK shot 16-over 156 in the final round and finished the two-day event at 38-over 318. Providence Christian went nuts and carded a 2-under 138 tally on Tuesday to make for a comeback victory. Providence trailed first-round leader, Battle Ground Academy, by five shots after play Monday.
Providence’s final mark of 10-over 290 bested BGA’s by nine.
Bella Bugg of BGA won the individual championship, following her first-round, 2-under 68 with a final-round 72.
Emery Fisher, a senior at Berean Christian, tied for eighth at 17-over 157. She shot 80 Tuesday.
CAK eighth-grader Grady Thomas and freshman Isabella Coughlin each tied for 11th. Thomas signed for rounds of 83 and 76. Coughlin carded a 79 and 80.
CAK sophomore Alexis Fishel was 19th (83-86).