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Observers noted that star Fike sophomore Jake Herring was struggling to demonstrate top form in the early going of the 2019 Wilson County Championship boys golf tournament at Wilson Country Club on a spectacular Wednesday afternoon.
But by the time the round ended, Herring had elevated into a league of his own in repeating as the individual champion with a tidy 5-under-par 33-34—67. Herring prevailed by eight shots after being contested shot-for-shot by Hunt junior Garrett Johnson for 12 holes.
As Herring dominated the individual competition, Johnson-led Hunt commanded the team chase with a 329 for its low four individuals in dethroning Fike, which sputtered to a 356 with Herring getting little help.
Beddingfield of the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference entered just three golfers and did not qualify for a team score. Two of the Bruins were easily spotted — they were wearing Beddingfield shirts. But locating the third was more challenging — he was clad in a Fike shirt and Hunt shorts.
Neither was the Fike lineup at full strength with two players opting to attend a concert instead of playing in the tournament.
The Herring-Johnson duel emerged the top storyline in a threesome of Herring, Johnson and Hunt senior Adam Dermer.
Johnson, starting his round on No. 13, stood 1-under until double-bogeying the par-5, No. 7 layout. He was victimized by two more bogeys the last five layouts and finished second with a 40-35—75.
After playing the first six holes at 1-over, Herring birdied Nos. 1, 2, 5, 7, 10, 12 and 14.
The outset saw him fuming and becoming occasionally demonstrative.
“I wasn’t really hitting the ball early,” the 15-year-old admitted. “I struggled to start with, and it was frustrating. But I started to figure it out. I went back to what I know to do, I started hitting it a lot better.”
However, Herring pointed out: “I missed four putts inside three feet — and one was for eagle.”
Nonetheless, Herring posted a round of par or lower for the ninth straight outing. He stands a scorching 42 under in those nine rounds and was coming off a performance Monday that sealed his second straight individual
championship in the 3-A Big East Conference.
Johnson and Dermer willingly challenged Herring.
“We were trying to compete a little bit and hang in there,” Johnson explained. “Somewhere close would be cool. I was hoping I was in contention, but I had a couple of bad breaks and (Herring) starting making a lot of birdies. But, it was fun to compete against him.”
Nonetheless, Johnson was pleased with his 3-over round that included four birdies, and contended the team championship was expected although Fike edged the Warriors for Big East supremacy.
Johnson was complemented by Dermer with an 83, junior Dante Gaetano with an 85 and junior Clay Williams with a career-low 86.
“I had a lot of chances at birdie,” Williams clamored. “My ball-striking was excellent.”
Of Hunt’s team performance, Johnson remarked: “We played good; we came in solid. We have all been playing decent but hadn’t had a break-out round. We played pretty solid. Adam didn’t think he played well, but I thouoght he did a good job.”
Fike’s second-lowest score was an 89 from junior Warren Matthews. Junior Dylan Pollock and sophomore Josh Siemieon each shot 106 for Beddingfield.
Herring shrugged off Fike’s runner-up finish.
“We were all just having fun,” he reasoned. “It is what it is. As long as everyone is having fun, I’m cool with it. There’s nothing to complain about.”
Ditto from Hunt’s Johnson in regards to finishing the individual runner-up and leading the Warriors to the team title over the par 36-36—72, 6,280-yard WCC layout.