The Pocahontas County High School golf team overcame a strong challenge by the Tygarts Valley Bulldogs to win the Potomac Valley Conference (PVC) Golf Championship at Canaan Valley Golf Course on Monday afternoon. Adding to the team’s joy of victory, it was announced that Warriors Head Coach Phillip Anderson had been voted the PVC Coach of the Year for 2014.
Five teams competed in the championship match at Canaan Valley on Monday: PCHS, Tygarts Valley, Moorefield, Tucker County and Union-Grant. The Warriors have had a run-and-gun battle with the conference rival Bulldogs all season long and narrowly defeated the Tygarts Valley squad by two strokes, 362-360, to win the championship.
Sophomore Brandon Wilfong shot a 78 and surprised absolutely nobody by winning the low ball medal at the match. Wilfong has played golf for just more than two years and has already become a solid All-State contender. Junior Matt Rao shot an 89 for the Warriors; senior Stephen Mick, 93; and sophomore Austin Sharp clubbed a 103 for PCHS.
Tygarts Valley, coached by the respected and well-liked Mitch Channell, had a solid performance across the board to finish second at the match. Senior Alex Hinzman led the Bulldogs with an 81; Cody Grimmett shot an 89; Jared Wegman shot a 93; and Casey Martel fired off a 101 for Tygarts Valley.
Moorefield, coached by Wade Armentrout, finished in third place with an overall score of 379, seventeen strokes off the pace set by PCHS. Senior Austin Williams shot an 89 for the Yellowjackets; Benjamin Vance, 95; Nicholas Martin, 97; and Tanner Carr, 98.
Tucker County finished in fourth overall and Union-Grant came in fifth.
Wilfong, Mick, Rao, Hinzman, Grimmett, Wegman and Williams were named to the All-Conference Team.
Anderson praised his team’s professionalism.
“Whenever it counts, they seem to bring their A-game,” he said. “Even though the conditions yesterday were terrible, it was like 41 degrees with the wind blowing and raining, they didn’t whine, they just put on their big boy shoes and played well. They played well enough to win.”
Anderson had high praise for his rivals from Tygarts Valley.
“They were after us,” he said. “They wanted it so bad. We hated to be the one to spoil it for them, but I’m glad we did.”
Anderson said his squad’s teamwork is important, even though golf is largely an individual effort.
“Our boys get along great,” he said. “They’re good friends and they help each other. If you have a team that can get along together and they work together, then you’ll see a team excel.”
The Warriors play in the regional championship match at Raven Golf Course at Snowshoe next Monday starting at 9 a.m. Seven teams will compete in the regionals: PCHS, Tygarts Valley, Tucker County, Moorefield, South Harrison, Union-Grant and Notre Dame. The top two teams from the regional match advance to the state championship in Wheeling.
The Fighting Irish have been a thorn in the Warriors’ side this season, narrowly winning two matches against PCHS. But Anderson thinks his team will excel under pressure.
“We’re going to play today and we’re going to play tomorrow at Elkins,” said the coach. “Then, hopefully, go practice a couple days over at Snowshoe before regionals. This game is a game of skill and it’s very mental, but you have to have the skill. The only way you can get better is practice.
“We won the regionals last year, but it’s going to be harder this year. It seems like Notre Dame has really come on strong. But we can beat them. There’s no question. But it’s going to be a close race. We’re not a shoo-in but we’re right there and we can get it done.”