Golf - Curly Licklider Invitational

August 5, 2011
By Robert Niedzwiecki
The Winchester Star

FRONT ROYAL- No one can ever say for sure who Sherando's No. 1 golfer is going to be on any given day, but that uncertainty could very well lead to something that can always be counted on when Northwestern District play starts.

The Warriors' top three golfers all finished within one stroke of each other to lead Sherando to fourth place overall and first by far among Northwestern District schools at Thursday's 10th annual Curly Licklider Invitational at the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club.

All of the club's 27 holes were used, and Sherando recorded a four-player score of 459 on the Red, White and Blue courses to finish 40 strokes higher than the next best Northwestern District team, James Wood (499).

Senior Cory Hammons and junior Chris Slater each shot 6-over 113s (tied for 15th overall), senior Kolby Madigan shot a 114 and senior Jeff Miller shot a 119 to account for four of the area's five best individual scores. Sherando's fifth best score (Cameron Wiseman's 122) was only bested by one other Northwestern golfer, James Wood junior Russell Repasky (118). "We've got [several] guys that shoot all-around and shoot within five strokes of each other," Slater said. "We all push each other a lot, and as a team, that just makes us better. We push each other all the time."

It's Sherando's depth that had fellow district coaches Thursday touting the defending champion Warriors as the team to beat in the Northwestern District.

Of course, Sherando wants to do more than just defend the district again. They want to be one of the two Region II team that advance to the Group AA state tournament, which will also be held at Shenandoah Valley.

The Warriors finished behind two fellow Region II teams Thursday in Western Albemarle (second with a 440) and Monticello (third with a 443).

Albemarle won the 30-team tournament with a score of 432. James Wood was 16th (499), Millbrook 17th (500), Clarke County 22rd (554), and Handley 25th (573). Western Albemarle's Kent Miller edged three other golfers by one stroke for the individual title with a 2-under 105.

"We would really like to be here for the state tournament," Slater said. "That's home-field advantage. Everyone on our team definitely feels like we're capable of pulling through regionals."

If the Warriors can succeed under circumstances like Thursday's, maybe they will have what it takes to excel once the postseason comes around.

By bumping the Licklider up from 18 holes to 27 this year, tournament organizers gave teams a chance to look at the entire course in advance of the state tournament. But with nine extra holes to play, golfers were still on the course seven hours after the 9 a.m. shotgun start.

"Twenty-seven holes, it's definitely hard to keep that mental focus," said Slater, who added that he never plays more than 18 in a day. "But it just makes you stronger as a golfer. This can only help, because you have to fight through physical and mental fatigue."

One of the things that helped Slater push through was getting back-to-back birdies on the sixth and seventh holes he played, the No. 1 and 2 blue holes, and he also got a big boost late when he chipped in from 30 yards out for a birdie on No. 8 red, his sixth-to-last hole.

It all added up to a consistent effort - both Slater and Hammons recorded only 37s or 38s on the three courses.

Sherando coach Rob Wright said he really couldn't have asked for much more.

"Listening to them, a little fatigue set in on [the final nine], and they said they knew where they missed some shots," he said. "But for the first time out, I thought we did real well."

James Wood coach Al Smith and Repasky both said the Colonels never do well at the Licklider, so they hope that Thursday's solid showing bodes well for the season.

"Tryouts didn't go all that well, but everyone shot really well," said Repasky, who holed two 50-foot putts for birdies. "I was surprised when I heard some of our scores. I'm really looking forward to the rest of year."

Though the Colonels apparently didn't follow all of Smith's advice Thursday - they frequently used their drivers even though he told them he didn't think they needed them - Smith said it was good to hear they were accurate with them.

"Fortunately they were mainly in the fairway, so that helped," Smith said. "This was a good start for us."

Millbrook was led by Matt Fazenbaker and Grace Eisenhauer (122), Clarke County was led by Matt Miller (132) and Handley was led by Jessie Nolan (127).

To mark the 10th anniversary of the tournament, Licklider's wife Terry and two sons Cody and Wes were on hand to present the awards. Licklider, a former golf course superintendent, died in 2000 at the age of 47.

- Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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