High school golf: State tournaments this week
Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 14, 2023
By Mike London
SALISBURY — A very young East Rowan team and an even younger Salisbury team will try to push nerves aside and compete for golf state championships on Monday and Tuesday.
East, coached by Tinsley Merrell, had a relatively peaceful qualifying day at Sapona, comfortably taking second place, with three teams advancing to the state tournament.
For Salisbury, things were quite a bit more tumultuous, beginning with an awful practice-round injury to Warren Fesperman at Pilot Knot Park Country Club before the 2A Midwest Regional.
“Warren wasn’t doing anything wrong, he just leaned out of his cart to pick up something,” Salisbury coach Josh Brincefield said. “He was on a side slope and the cart toppled over and fell right on top of him. I’m screaming for help, and fortunately, his father (Alan) was there and John McCoy’s dad was there, and we were able to get the cart off of him. But he had a pretty gruesome broken leg. It was a scary experience.”
The first broken bone of Fesperman’s life, plus a dislocated ankle.
Fesperman will be OK — but it will take some time before he’s swinging a golf club again. He was transported to a Surry County ER where the medical staff was able to secure and set the injuries, and he had surgery back in Salisbury.
The Hornets had to move forward to play the regional round on Monday. There are no regional mulligans. It’s one day, one shot to make the state tournament.
“The East Surry guys had been out there on the Pilot Knob course practicing when they heard all that screaming going on from us when Warren got hurt, and they asked me at the regional if someone had made a hole-in-one,” Brincefield said. “I had to tell them those weren’t happy screams, man, those were terrified screams.”
Salisbury managed to advance at the regional, finishing third, 26 shots behind East Surry and seven behind Forbush.
“Warren has been our No. 2 guy all year, so that was a huge loss, and then we didn’t play real well on a tricky, unfamiliar course on top of that,” Brincefield said. “We didn’t get to finish our practice round when Warren was injured. But it’s all good. We qualified, and it’s like I told the guys, the regional is just survive and advance. We did enough. We’re still playing.”
Brincefield has studied the 2A field carefully. He believes East Surry, which has two very strong seniors, and Seaforth are the favorites.
“East Surry was really impressive at the regional — 69, 72, 73 from their top three guys,” Brincefield said. “But it was their home course, and that had to help them some. The one thing I can guarantee is that we’ll play a lot better in the state than we did in the regional. I honestly believe we’re one of the five teams that can win it if we’re at our best.”
Salisbury will be the host team next year when the 2A Midwest Regional will be played at the Country Club of Salisbury.
“The guys are already excited about that,” Brincefield said.
The four Hornets playing in the state tournament will be John McCoy, Jackson Sparger, Bryant Davis and Bo Brincefield.
All the Hornets are freshmen or sophomores. The Hornets will be playing at Longleaf.
East Rowan will be playing on the Red Course at Foxfire. Like Longleaf, it’s part of a chain of sparkling courses in the Pinehurst/Southern Pines area.
East’s standard top four include two juniors (Landon Merrell and Jaden Sprinkle) and two freshmen (Brady McIntyre and Braden Mulkey).
Also competing at Foxfire will be Carson senior Cade Cranfield and West Rowan junior Tyler Kepley. They qualified for the state tournament as individuals.
Two more Rowan youngsters will be competing in the 1A State Championships being held on Pinehurst No. 6.
Jacob Trainer, who lives in Salisbury, was an individual qualifier from Gray Stone. Sports fans may remember his sister, Ella, who played volleyball and softball for Salisbury High and is now a student at UNC. Trainor’s Gray Stone teammate Wyatt Reeder, who lists New London as his hometown, also qualified as an individual.
Kaiden Dulkoski, who lives in China Grove, also will be playing in the 1A State Championships. Dulkoski , a junior, attends Christ the King Catholic High School in Huntersville. Christ the King qualified for the state event as a team. Dulkoski’s family operates the Revival Golf Course at the Crescent.