When the 2017 high school golf season was about to begin, the team’s top two golfers, Hunter Clay (Jr) and Thomas Brumbeloe (Soph), set two team goals – (1) Put Sequoyah in the upper tier of the county’s golf teams, and (2) Qualify for the State AAAAAA Tournament for the first time in a long while. Last week the team achieved goal #1, and on Tuesday, the Chiefs put together a truly team performance to qualify for the State Tournament.
For 2017, Georgia High School Golf does not play 8 Region Tournaments as it has done in prior years. Beginning this year, each classification has four Area Tournaments. Sequoyah is one of 18 teams in AAAAAA Area 4; fourteen schools sent golfers to the Area Tournament at Brookstone Golf and Country Club in Acworth.
Creekview, Dalton, and Harrison were favorites to take the top three spots in the Area. That would leave three spots remaining for the State Tournament with Sequoyah, Allatoona, Douglas County, South Paulding, Northgate, and Alexander having good chances to compete.
To qualify for State, a team must shoot a team score of 335 or better. After nine holes the Chiefs were at 168 – one stroke higher than they needed to qualify. This meant that at least one of the top four golfers must score better on the back nine if the other 3 golfers could score equal their front nine scores. Coach Jon Heath challenged each member to buckle down and stay focused on the back nine. Each golfer was determined to better his score on the back nine to bring home a State Qualifier. All the Chiefs fans present can attest to the drama that unfolded throughout the day.
Hunter Clay, playing in the #1 slot, was not able to improve on his back nine posting a 40 40 – 80. The baton passed to #2, Thomas Brumbeloe, who birdied the 18th hole, but he could not better his back nine carding a 37 37 – 74. Ryan Medlin (Sr) playing at #3 was next to finish, and the senior was determined not to be playing in his final high school tournament. Medlin got the job done by improving on the back nine by four strokes to post a 45 41 – 86. Ryan Wakefield (Soph) sealed the deal by finishing with a 46 46 – 92, and #5 Joseph Trlica carded a 95 for good measure to back up Wakefield. Freshman Brock O’Conner also got his first start in post season play.
After the first wave of six schools had posted their scores, the Chiefs held 5th place with a qualifying score. They then had to wait for the remaining 8 schools’ golfers to finish and post their scores. At first Sequoyah could breath easily as it was planned for the Area to send the top six teams to state, but due to a technicality, it was determined that only five schools would advance. Sequoyah was on the bubble, and had to wait for the final four teams to post scores to learn their fate.
Finally it was down to one team, Douglas County, who had the tournament low medalist with a four under par 68. As the Tigers’ scores went on the board, Coach Heath and the boys watched intently. Ultimately, it was down to one final golfer; a score in the low 90’s by the Douglas County #4 man could wrench the State Tournament slot from Sequoyah. As they waited, Clay noticed that Brumbeloe would qualify to the State Tournament as an individual if Douglas County bumped the Chiefs, but a confident Brumbeloe said they’d all be going as a team, and the Chiefs’ low man for the Area Tournament was correct. The Tigers fell short and Sequoyah advanced to the State Tournament for what is believed to be the first time in more than twenty years.
Congratulations go out to all the boys and to Coach Heath who found the scoreboard watching to be much more stressful than the golf on the course. Now that the team has qualified for State, Heath said anything more this season is gravy.