Wildcats win third golf title in four years

May. 15, 2013 @ 12:17 AM

Westchester Country Day didn’t mess around.

Leading by six shots through one round, the Wildcats shot 299 — their best-ever score in a state championship — in Tuesday’s final round of the NCISAA 2A state golf championship at Talamore Golf Resort to win by eight and capture their third title in four years.

Hardin Councill, who was tied for the overnight lead, shot a 73 while Thomas Walsh fired an even-par 71 — both tying for second with a 143 total, two behind Archer Price of Gaston Day. Russell Marion shot 72 for a 151 total while Jake Weiland carded an 83 for a 170.

Councill and Marion both earned all-state for the first time while Walsh was named for the fourth time, and, as a team, the Wildcats made a vast improvement over last year’s second-place finish at Mid-Pines. But that experience helped motivate the team to perform better.

“It feels really good — a lot better than the runner-up last year,” said Walsh, a sophomore, with a broad smile. “We didn’t want that second place again because that was awful last year. So, we worked hard, and I think we played our best 18 holes of the year.”

Behind Westchester’s 607 total, St. David’s finished second with a 615, followed by Asheville Christian (624), Cary Christian (625), Westminster Catawba (633), The O’Neal School (643), Rocky Mount Academy (647) and Carolina Day (659).

Councill, Walsh and Marion played steadily — as they have throughout the much of the season. So, midway through the round, the question was whether the Wildcats could get a fourth score good enough to win. Weiland, an eighth-grader whose 87 counted Monday, came through.

“We didn’t give up, and everyone’s score could’ve counted, if they played well,” said Councill, a freshman. “It’s nice to know that people can back you up if you don’t play well. … It feels great. We’ve worked hard for it, improved all year and our fourth score came through.”

Throughout the season, Westchester was determined to regain its title. From focusing on their putting every week in practice to learning how to play smart golf, the Wildcats worked hard in preparation for these two days of fierce competition — and they performed.

“I think everyone knows their roles,” coach Adam Schwartz said. “Thomas and Hardin know they have to play really well. Russell knew he was capable, because he’s competed with those guys and beat them in three or four individual matches and had a great index.

“Those guys knew they had to give us a good score and then get one score out of the other three. Jake Weiland was just huge. For an eighth-grader to shoot 87 and 83 is awesome. … We’re just going to try to keep working and getting better against tough competition.”