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Owls add state crowns to district, region titles

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By Dwane Wilder

Perfection came to fruition last week for LaFollette Middle School’s golf teams.

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The Owls and Lady Owls completed a three-tournament sweep by winning Tennessee Middle School Golf Association championships Thursday at The Greens at Deerfield. Seventeen schools from two regions had representatives playing in the 18-hole tournament, either as a member of one of the four competing teams or as individuals.

Earlier, LaFollette swept both the district and regional tournaments. This is the second time since 2007 that the Owls have won state and the first time the Lady Owls have finished the season as the No.1 girl’s team.

LaFollette’s boys capped an undefeated season by beating Maryville by 11 strokes in the final four of the TMSGA Tournament. As has been case most of the season, eighth graders Tyler Chumley and Trevor Huckaby posted the two lowest scores for the Owls. Chumley finished fourth overall with a career-best score of 78, while Huckaby shot 83. Weston Sharp (91) and Caleb Baird (94) rounded out LaFollette’s scoring.

“Any time you beat Maryville in anything, it’s good,” said Owls coach Joey St. John.

“I knew it would be tough because their coach (Mike Driver) won a couple of high school state championships when he was at Farragut.”

Carter’s boys finished five strokes behind Maryville with a team score of 362. Lake City was fourth in the boy’s team standings with a team score of 379.

Individually, Lenoir City’s Tanner Nelson was medalist with a tournament best score of 73. Jacksboro eighth grader Jake Clowers, who was making his fourth consecutive appearance at state, shot 76 to finish third overall. Jellico’s Tanner Byrge turned in a score of 94.

Huckaby, who was district champion and finished third at regionals, joined Chumley and Clowers on the all-state team.

“Trevor has been our anchor guy this season. He has the lowest stroke average on the team,” said St. John.

“Tyler has improved so much from last year. He’s really come a long way.

“But our third and fourth players (Sharp and Baird) kind of won it for us. Our number four, Weston Sharp, shot a career-best 91, and he is only a sixth-grader.”

Hunter Lawson, a seventh-grader, shot 102 for LaFollette, but only the four lowest scorers from each team were counted in the final standings. The Owls were unbeaten last season until regionals, where they lost by one stroke to Rockwood and Clinton. LaFollette failed to advance, as only the regional champion and runner-up move on to the state tournament.

“I think they remembered that,” said St. John.

His assistant coach, former LaFollette Country Club Pro Bobby Heatherly, certainly did.

All year long, Heatherly has made “doing the little things” a point of emphasis.

“His motto is, “Every stroke counts, whether it’s a 200-yard drive or a 6-inch putt,” said St. John.

In a repeat of the girl’s regional championship, the Lady Owls beat Lenoir City, albeit by a much wider margin. LaFollette won state by 16 strokes, 196-212, after claiming a five-stroke victory at regionals. Teams from Sacred Heart and Seymour finished third and fourth, respectively.

Lindsay Taylor led the charge for the trio of Lady Owl eighth-graders. She shot a 97 to finish third overall. Classmate Marie Roach was right on Taylor’s heels with a score of 99 for fourth place. Nicole Lumpkins shot 109, but only the two lowest scorers counted for each team.

“Our girls swept district, region and state, so they were pretty good as a team,” said St. John.

“The last couple of matches (Taylor, Roach and Lumpkins) all played within a stroke or two of each other. When they were in the sixth grade, they were horrible. They went through thick and thin, and took a beating. I was real proud to see the improvement they’ve made since then.”

Jacksboro also had a pair of girl golfers competing for individual honors. Julie Davis shot 105 to finish sixth overall, while Lady Eagle teammate Courtney Sharp shot 111. Tournament director Johnny Bruce thanked the owners and staff of The Greens at Deerfield for being such gracious hosts.

“We appreciate Jim and Diane Fields, Kevin Fields and Jody Hatmaker,” said Bruce.