MANCHESTER – The first round of golf in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference Tournament can set you up for the next three rounds, or it can leave you playing catch up.

For Elijah McCarty and West Union, the first day was a good start.

McCarty shot a 1-over 37 on the back nine at Hilltop Golf Course to lead the first-place Dragons, who recorded a team score of 161 in the first round of the SHAC Tournament on Tuesday.

“I was just hoping to play a solid round, try to shoot even,” said McCarty. “That was my main goal – try to keep up with par.”

McCarty finished one stroke ahead of Noah Lung of North Adams. Peebles’ Bostin Robinson and West Union’s Jacob Pell came in right behind with 3-over 39s.

“I was really hoping to get the lead today,” said McCarty. “I only got it by one, so it’s going to be close.”

Carson McFarland finished with a 42, Eli Fuller finished with a 43 and Andrew Sapp finished with a 48 to round out West Union’s scores on the par-36, back nine at Hilltop.

“He’s [McCarty] solid. He’s always consistent. I can always count on him coming in right around par almost all the time. Whether he’s under par or over par, he’s usually right there,” said West Union coach Carl Schneider.

“I think the other guys can look up to that, especially the younger ones trying to achieve and work toward it,” added Schneider. “At the same time, the other guys know we’ve got a pretty solid anchor somewhere and that if they have a bad shot, that they can count on him to pick up the slack a little bit.”

The Green Devils sit in second after day one at 173.

“I think we’re in a good position first day. North Adams is a really good team and we’ve been fighting close with them all year,” said Schneider. “I think it’s going to come down to either one of the two of us to go to state also.”

Manchester claimed the third position with a 177, only four strokes back of second-place North Adams. Logan Hayslip shot a 4-over 40, while Dylan Colvin finished at 41 and Zach James at 43.

“We’ve probably got the two best second-tier golfers on our team,” said Manchester coach Adam Poole. “We’ll probably end up somewhere in that third to fourth range.”

Whiteoak’s Zach Harless finished with a 10-over 46 to lead his team to fourth in the standings, while Eric McLaughlin shot an 8-over 44 to lead Lynchburg-Clay to fifth.

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Ripley will have some ground to make up the next three rounds if they want to move up the standings. The Blue Jays, who were hoping to compete with Manchester for third before the season started, finished sixth after the first round with a team score of 207. Peyton Fyffe shot a team-best 9-over 45.

“Since then we’ve had a match with Manchester on two different occasions and they beat us each time by like 15 shots, so we’ve kind of conceded that, OK, I think the best we can do here is fourth,” said Ripley coach Michael Scanlan. “If we can get fourth and know there’s three teams ahead of us and a handful of them behind us, I’ll be happy.”

Eastern Brown landed seventh in the standings, shooting 214 as a team. James Woods and Ethan Tracy both finished with 15-over 51s for the Warriors.

Fairfield rounded out the team’s competing with a team score of 217. Peebles did not have enough golfers compete to qualify as a team.

The teams are scheduled to be back in action for the second round on Thursday at Buckeye Hills Country Club. The round is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

“Beautiful course. Good greens. Fast greens,” said Schneider. “We have not played there this year. All the boys have experience playing there, though. They’ll have to count on that experience a little bit. It’s a course that can jump up and bite you, just like this course can. They’ll have to play with their heads a little bit. I think we’ll see scores pretty close to around the same as we do here.”

The third round of the SHAC Tournament is scheduled for Sept. 19, at White Oak Golf Course. The fourth and final round is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. on Sept. 21, at Snow Hill Country Club.

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