When the high school golf season started, Jake Campbell was just hoping he could make Boyd-Buchanan's starting lineup. Thursday at Chatata Valley, the freshman won the Region 3-A/AA individual championship and led the Buccaneers to a 322 total and the team title.
Closing with his best nine-hole score of the year, Campbell shot a 4-over-par 76 for the day and tied with Polk County's Ryan Droke, who had shot his best round of the season. Campbell then defeated Droke by parring the first playoff hole.
The Lady Bucs made it a Boyd-Buchanan sweep of all the top honors, although they had to go to a playoff hole with Sequoyah after each team totaled 169. The championship was decided when medalist Madison Balthrop dropped a short par putt on the playoff hole.
Campbell put himself in position to make a run at the individual title by shooting 39 on the front. Then, on the lengthier back nine, he came in with a 37.
"My putting was really good," Campbell said. "I had a couple of one-putts. I was worried about my drives but it turned out great. The front nine I was real steady. The back nine I just had a couple of really good holes."
Boyd-Buchanan coach Ed Connelly, who had seen Campbell lead the middle school team to the Independent Schools Conference championship, said he had him in the No. 5 position because his nine-hole average of 42 is fifth on the team -- albeit a balanced one. For instance, Jack Wood's 80 led the team in District 5 tournament on the same course Monday, but Wood's 86 was a non-counter Thursday.
Connelly said he figures averages of practice rounds and matches and all nine Bucs have nine-hole averages from 39 to 44.
"Our guys are very excited," Connelly said of the Bucs' first state-tournament berth. "Our two seniors, Ashton Evans and Tanner Zumbrun, have been working extremely hard to make it happen."
The Lady Bucs, led by Balthrop's 80 and supported by Lauren Foster's fourth-place 89, will be making a return trip to the state tournament along with freshman teammate Chandler Hiland.
"They were going to be disappointed if they didn't go back to the state tournament," Connelly said. "They've worked hard this year, both of them. What's been good is their mental attitude, as much as anything. They're focused on what they're doing."
Although it was Balthrop's par that sealed the playoff win, Connelly noted the importance of what Foster did after hitting a wayward second shot. Her bogey proved to be as good as any of the Lady Chiefs' scores.
"Lauren was determined to get it close," Connelly said of her third shot, which was from right of the green. "They've picked up the pieces after they've hit bad shots. That's all part of the mental attitude."
Marion County's Lucas Coffelt (78) defeated Kody Hampton of second-place Sequoyah (331) on the first playoff hole for third place among the boys. Droke, Coffelt, Hampton and Hixson's Tate Truong (79) qualified for the state tournament as individuals.
Sequoyah's Olivia Raper was runner-up with an 82 and teammate Carley Swabe was third with an 87. The other girls' individual state qualifiers are Hixson's Ali Barber and Polk County's Emily Massengill, who shot 91s.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.