MOREHEAD | It has been over 20 years since Lewis County sent a boy golfer to the state championships and nearly 40 years since it last had ANY team qualify.
On Monday at the 12th Region Championships, those streaks ended.
Coach Jim Draper’s Lions carded a 321 to finish four strokes behind two-time defending champion Montgomery County to earn a berth in next week’s Leachman Buick GMC Cadillac/KHSAA State Golf Championships in Bowling Green.
“We really played a solid round of golf pretty much from top to bottom,” Draper said. “It’s a first for Lewis County getting to go to the state tournament. We are really excited and hope we represent the area well. It’s something that’s been a goal of ours for several years.”
Senior Robby Draper paced the Lions with a 73 to finish fourth overall. Eighth-grader Logan Liles’ 76 tied him for sixth. Junior Austin Ruggles tied for 17th with an 84. Classmate Cameron Ruckel tied for 23rd with an 88, while senior Tate Willis’ 89 tied him for 28th.
“Robby played extremely well with his one-over. Logan Liles is Mr. Consistent. He had a 76 today and played extremely well,” coach Draper said. “The middle of the lineup played about average. Cameron shot an 88 and Austin shot an 84.”
Entering the tournament, Ruggles’ availability was in question.
“Austin came in off a pretty (significant) foot injury on Friday. We didn’t know if he was going to be able to play in the tournament, but he gutted it out today and posted what I thought was a great number considering his injury,” coach Draper said.
Eleven teams and 64 total golfers made up the field on the par-72, 6,502-yard Eagle Trace Golf Course, with the top two teams and the next three best individual performances earning bids to next week’s state championships.
Montgomery County won the event for the fourth time in five years, but the team total of 317 was its highest score this year. The Indians dominated the region throughout the season and won the last two regional titles by an average of 22 strokes.
“Good enough, I guess is the best way to say it,” said Montgomery County head coach Kevin Lawson. “We had a 72, 75 and two 85's that we had to count, which really ran our score up, but we’re tickled to get the win.”
All five Indian golfers placed in the top 23. Defending champion Luke Fuller was third at 72, followed by junior classmate Jon Kosier in fifth at 75. Junior Kyle Ambergey and senior Evan King each carded an 85 to tie for 20th, with eighth-grader Logan McCormick placing 23rd with an 86.
Lawrence County junior Hunter Goble was the overall medalist with a 2-under-par 70. He previously won the title in 2014, when the event was last held at Eagle Trace. Last year at the Mount Sterling Country Club, he finished third. Goble will be making his fourth consecutive trip to the state tournament as an individual.
Two other golfers qualified to play next week. Morgan County junior Blake Evans and Fairview senior Colby Hill earned the other at-large state bids. Evans finished second with a 72, while Hill tied for sixth with a 76.
The two-day Leachman Buick GMC Cadillac/KHSAA Boys’ Golf Championship begins on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at the Bowling Green Country Club.