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Volunteer's Lovelace barely misses state championship

JEFF BIRCHFIELD • Oct 16, 2019 at 8:34 PM

MANCHESTER — Volunteer sophomore Jon Wes Lovelace came up one stroke short of winning the individual boys’ championship at the TSSAA Large Schools golf championships Wednesday at WillowBrook Golf Club.

Lovelace came into the final round with a two-stroke lead over Jaden Zimmer of Crockett County. Lovelace finished 1-over 73 for the day and 3-under 141 overall to end up one stroke back of Zimmer.

“The season was really good. I won regional and came so close to winning the state,” Lovelace said. “I came up a little short today. I played well other than I had a double bogey yesterday on No. 3 and I made a couple of mistakes down the stretch. The rest of the tournament was really solid.”

Lovelace appeared to be in good position to become the Falcons’ first-ever state champion golfer. He was 1-under on the front nine and still held the lead coming off the No. 15 green. A pair of bogeys on holes No. 16 and No. 17, along with Zimmer’s final round of 2-under 70 made the difference.

“On 16, I misjudged the distance with a wedge. It was a front pin and you couldn’t go long,” Lovelace said. “You have to hit it the perfect distance, but I left it a little short and chipped it a little long. I had a tough downhill putt, about eight feet, and didn’t make it. Then 17, I had a long putt. I putted up there to about four feet. I thought it was going to break, but it stayed straight and lipped out.”

Jack Tickle of Tennessee High finished third individually with a 2-under 142. He fired 71 both days, coming up with three birdies and two bogeys over his final round.

Sullivan Central sophomore Seth Robinette tied for 29th overall after ending with a 16-over 160

TEAM COMPETITION

Science Hill shot a 310 Wednesday and finished at 22-over 611, nine strokes back of Franklin for the team championship. After coming into the final round tied, the front nine was particularly vexing for the defending state champions. They were 13 strokes behind heading into the final nine holes.

“Obviously, we’re down right now because we wanted to repeat. Once that pain goes away, we will realize what an accomplishment it was to place second,” Science Hill coach Kevin Vannoy said.

Tarun Hoskere led the Hilltoppers with two rounds of 72 to end at even-par 144. It tied him for fourth in the individual standings. Carter Counts was 13th individually at 8-over 152 and 2018 individual champion Jackson Skeen finished tied for 19th at 11-over 155.

Ross Boehling was 17-over 161 to round out the Science Hill scoring, while Jacob Oakley was 20-over 164.

Still, it was a season to remember for the Hilltoppers, who swept Big 11 Conference, District 1 and Region 1 championships. It was the fifth straight Region 1 title and Vannoy pointed out it took a true team effort.

“When you think about it, Jackson had a big part in the last four years, Tarun and Carter the last three years,” Vannoy said. “Jacob and Ross would probably be one of the top two guys for about everybody in the conference, but had to wait their turn. Once they got their turn, they stepped up like seniors should.”

GIRLS COMPETITION

Tennessee High, which entered Wednesday’s team competition tied for the lead, shot a 158 to finish with a two-day total of 19-over 307. The Lady Vikings wound up third, nine strokes behind Station Camp and seven back of Farragut.

Dobyns-Bennett junior Isabella van der Biest tied the day’s best mark with a 1-under 71. After going even par on the front nine, the 2018 individual state champion had two birdies and one bogey on the back nine. She climbed up the leaderboard to tie Tennessee High’s Madeline Simcox for fifth overall with a score of 6-over 150.

Sullivan South junior Kara Carter shot a 5-over 77 Wednesday and tied for eighth overall at 8-over 152. Carter had a birdie on the par-5, No. 16 hole.

Isabella Adkins from Tennessee High tied for 15th individually at 13-over and her sister Noelia Adkins was 19th at 19-over.

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