Prep Golf: Salisbury focused on state title
By Ronnie Gallagher
SALISBURY — Dale Snyder marveled at the demeanor of his Salisbury golf team when it won last week’s 2A regional by 12 strokes.
“I’m like, ‘Hey, this is a great accomplishment. Let’s enjoy this,’ ” Snyder said. “To them, it was just another day at the office.”
That’s because the Hornets have had only one thing in mind since the season began: last year when they let a state championship slip through their fingers.
Salisbury enters today’s 2A title event at Longleaf Country Club in Southern Pines focused on the big prize. Nothing less than a state title matters.
“They’re very confident,” Snyder said. “I don’t tell them a thing. They know every day when they wake up what they had. They know it was right there in their hands.”
Salisbury was in position to win it all last season. They led by eight strokes after Day 1 and with North Lincoln coming on strong, the teams hit the back nine.
That’s when Snyder noticed Clark Alcorn didn’t look right.
“I see Alcorn hit a shot and he started using his umbrella as a crutch walking down the fairway. He’d been having some kind of hernia problem. I said, ‘It’s just not worth it, state championship or not. Let’s get him to a doctor.’ ”
A rules official took Alcorn back to the clubhouse.
“All the guys saw it,” Snyder said. “I think it bothered them a little bit. It ended up being our worst 9-hole score of the year.”
Salisbury lost the title to North Lincoln by two strokes.
“When you lose by such a small margin, you’ve got individual kids saying, ‘What if I had done this?’ or ‘what if I had done that?’ The bottom line is, we didn’t do the job,” Snyder said.
Salisbury has done the job this year, however, with a team so deep that, if you count ties, all six of Snyder’s top players have been a medalist.
Snyder has assembled quite a group of talent.
Roy Dixon is the only senior and is the defending state individual champ.
“We all know about Roy Dixon,” Snyder smiled. “He has played so well for us for four years.”
No. 2 is freshman Eric Edwards, who won the county championship at McCanless by shooting a 67.
“He’s a freshman so he’s had some off days but in general, he’s been as good as expected,” Snyder said.
Alex Nianouris, Troy Beaver, Alcorn and Alex Lee round out the top six. All are juniors.
“Nianouris is probably our most consistent golfer,” Snyder said. “He’s just steady. He does all the little things right.”
Beaver is one of those guys who is going to rip it off the tee.
“He’s going to go for it,” Snyder said, “and we’re like, why not? We’ve got such a good team behind him.”
Alcorn started slow but has picked it up and is currently playing strong golf. He shot a 33 recently at Sapona in Lexington.
And few teams have a player as strong at No. 6 as Lee.
“Alex is as consistent as you can get,” Snyder said. “He’s improved so much from his freshman year. He’ll do all the little things.”
To show how talented Salisbury is this season, Snyder points to his seventh and eighth players: Joseph Rusher and Alex Austin, both sophomores. Rusher was an all-county and all-conference player last season but he can’t get on the course.
“They’re absolutely tremendous golfers,” Snyder praised, “but the problem is, we’re only allowed to take six golfers to a match. If you go by averages, they’re not in the top six. You’d be hard-pressed to find two guys with averages of around 39 who aren’t playing. It’s a great problem to have, but a real problem because they’re so deserving.”
Now, that lineup has to produce on Longleaf’s 6,600-yard, par 71 course the Hornets have played several times.
“It’s all right there in front of you,” said Snyder, who took his boys for a practice round on Sunday. “There’s not a lot of tricky holes or trouble.
“The one thing I don’t like about it for our team is, it’s not very long. It takes the driver out of our hands. We’ve got some guys who can flat-out bomb the ball. It’s not like The Warrior where you can hit it for miles. At Longleaf, they have to lay off a little.”
Salisbury is talented enough to make the adjustments physically. And mentally, the Hornets seem prepared because they remember last year so vividly.
“We’re confident because we’ve played well all year,” Nianouris said. “But we know we can’t let it go to our heads. We’ve still got to go out there and win it.”