WHEELING — Like Wheeling Park coach Don Headley always says, “sometimes you get the Jones, most of the time the Jones gets you.”
It couldn’t have been more clear on Tuesday for Day 1 of the West Virginia High School Golf Tournament at Oglebay’s Jones Course.
The strong gusts of wind took its toll on everybody and the start of play was delayed over an hour due to frost.
Nonetheless, Wheeling Park is leading the Class AAA team championship with a 242 — five shots ahead of George Washington heading into Day 2.
Defending champion Ryan Bilby of Brooke shot a 77 (6-over par) after hurting his wrist on the third hole but still holds a one-shot lead on Wheeling Park senior Noah Seivertson, Cabell Midland’s Cameron Jarvis and Parkersburg South’s Mace Busch in the Class AAA individual group.
In Class A, Wheeling Central sophomore Justin Doerr birdied holes 9 and 11 to card a 79 and take a two-shot advantage on Parkersburg Catholic’s Lewis Blake.
Along with Seivertson’s day of 78, fellow senior James Salvatori and sophomore Gavin Goodrich each turned in scores of 82 to help put Park in front.
Patriots’ freshman Campbell Koegler shot an 86 in his first state championship.
“Everybody held in there (Tuesday),” Headley said. “Pin placements were really tough, the course was long, the wind blew and the scores went up rapidly. Jones was the winner (Tuesday).
“Everybody left some shots out there but (today) will be better for everyone. A five-shot lead is nothing in this game. It can be erased or doubled in one hole.
“We need all four guys to take care of business and try to get as many pars as we can. The objective is who can make the most pars.”
Bilby is looking to wrap up his outstanding career with back-to-back titles but between a rough start, the howling winds and an injury to his right wrist, it was anything but easy.
“It was a tough day out here (Tuesday),” Brooke coach Ron Ujcich Jr. said. “The wind made Jones even tougher. For Ryan to hold it together, I think he did a great job. He was able to keep calm and make some birdies to get some of the double-bogeys back.
“We’ll have to take care of the wrist injury (Tuesday night). We’re going to keep some ice on it with a little ibuprofen and we’ll be back at it (today).
“He just hit a dirt spot. When he hit the ball, the club just stuck and his wrist got jammed and it was instant pain. We’ll rewrap it (today) and I told him him he’ll have to play through a little bit of pain and be the man.”
Doerr qualified for state as a freshman but after one round he isn’t just satisfied with being there.
“If he plays the same way he did (Tuesday), he’ll do just fine,” Central coach Jim Mortakis said of Doerr. “He was pretty solid. Jones is a hard course. I think the wind was a factor for everybody. The holes aren’t all in the same direction so there are a lot of different changing winds. It was probably hard for most kids but Justin did really well in the wind. I think only one tee shot got away because of the wind for him.”
John Marshall’s Colton Sprowls is also in the top half of the Class AAA field after getting a birdie on 14 and carding an 86 on Day 1.
“We played in the same conditions last Wednesday in a practice round,” Sprowls said. “I just tried to play through it and kept grinding.”
Doerr will tee-off today at 9:06 a.m. on the 10th hole, while Bilby and Sprowls start on the first hole at 10 a.m., followed by Owen Leary (10:09 a.m.), Goodrich (10:18 a.m.), Salvatori (10:27 a.m.) and Seivertson (10:36 a.m.).
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