Prep Golf: Salisbury wins state championship
By Ryan Bisesi
Roy Dixon wouldn’t argue that playing on the best team in the state was better than being the best individual before Tuesday and he certainly didn’t refute it at about 3:15 p.m.
Dixon, last year’s 2A individual champion, didn’t repeat this year, but instead grasped another trophy and carried a similar smile.
“I got the individual last year and that was awesome, but I didn’t want to leave without a team championship,” Dixon said.
That wish was fulfilled Tuesday as Salisbury’s state championship warpath continued unabated. It did so not on the field or court but on the links, where they came tantalizingly close last year. After being state runner up to North Lincoln in 2010, Salisbury’s boys golf team swapped places with North, finishing with a 287 on Tuesday for a total score of 580 to capture the 2A state title at Longleaf Golf Course and Country Club in Southern Pines.
Salisbury shot a 293 Monday along with North to set the stage for an apparent dramatic final day. Tuesday, the Hornets gained a 12-stroke lead after nine holes and cruised to the school’s fourth state title in a team sport this school year.
The 580 was the third-best team score for an N.C. High School Athletic Association tournament, tying Raleigh Broughton’s score in 1998, ironically the last year Salisbury was state champ. The Hornets were 4-under on the front nine and 7-over on a stout back nine.
“We really showed that you can’t win this title with two or three good golfers,” said Salisbury coach Dale Snyder, minutes removed from a ice-water bath via his players. “You’ve got to have five, six good golfers and that’s what we’ve got.
“We counted one double [bogey] today and other than that, these guys played lights out. I mean, Clark [Alcorn] shot a 74 and we didn’t count it. How much better do you want to get than that?”
Salisbury personified team play as it lacked an eye-opening score, no one shot under par, but had five solid scores at or around par.
Dixon, the only senior on the team, shot a 73 but his second-round performance was overshadowed by junior Alex Nianouris and freshman Eric Edwards, both of whom shot par for the day (71). Dixon was second in the individual with a 142 overall.
After getting to know Snyder from various regional and state championship matches, North coach Mark Lackey anticipated another down-to-the wire finish after a neck-and-neck first day. The Knights faltered with a 311 on Day 2 despite a 71 from Miller Capps and a 74 from Sam Goodnight, who was third in the individual.
“Well, I guess we did battle them … for a little while,” Lackey said with a laugh. “My hat’s off to Salisbury. They’re a heck of a team and may be the best team down here in all classifications. They’re a class act and so is Dale Snyder.”
The back nine holes troubled Salisbury Monday, going 9-over on the par 71, 6,600-yard layout. On Tuesday, Edwards, the county champion as a freshman, set the pace with a team-best par 35 after the turn.
“He’s amazing,” gushed Nianouris of Edwards. “We call him ‘the protege’ because he’s got a great future.”
“I hit a lot more greens and regulations so that opened up more opportunities for birdies,” Edwards said. “I converted on some of them and didn’t have to worry about bogeys as much.”
Alcorn managed a 34 to lead Salisbury through the front nine while juniors Nianouris and Troy Beaver each shot 35. The Hornets kept the foot on the gas with Nianouris managing a 36 and Dixon and Beaver getting 37s. Beaver just missed par with a 72.
“After the front side, we were up by 12 shots and I’m like, ‘Don’t stop, don’t let up,’ ” Snyder said.
Dixon, a UNC Greensboro signee, couldn’t repeat his Monday finish where he tied Coalson with a 69. Coalson shot par on Tuesday for a 140 and the individual crown.
“We all wanted him to win back-to-back,” Snyder said. “At the same time, I guarantee this kid will tell you he’ll take this year over last year any day.”
The 580 was a drastic improvement over last year’s championship at Keith Hills Country Club in Buies Creek, where Salisbury shot a 616, two strokes behind North.
“We had the lead last year and these guys, they remember that,” Snyder said. “They’re so talented, so mature, they didn’t need to be reminded of what happened last year.”
“I think this year we were a lot more confident,” Dixon said. “We knew we had the talent to do it so we just went out and did what we had to do.”