Golf

Members of the Halifax County High School golf team include front row, from the left, Zac Rhodes, Ethan Kirkhart, Minjune Kim, Peyton Wallace, Will Long, Joseph Roberts and Cade Watts; back row, from the left, assistant coach Chris Lacks, Harrison Culpepper, Jaxon Lloyd, Will Abdi, Ryan Corona, Willoughby Gasperini, Joseph Wilson, Cameron Burnett and Head Coach David Day.

The season has been good so far for the Halifax County High School golf team. Halifax County High School has won all three of the regular-season Piedmont District tournaments to date and appears to be a strong favorite to win the district championship.

Where the importance lies, however, is the post-season Virginia High School League Region 4D Championship tournament as that tournament will determine which of the region’s team will advance to the Class 4 State Tournament.

The Comets got a preview of their Region 4D competition in the season-opening Heritage Invitational Tournament at London Downs Golf Course near Lynchburg.

Defending Class 4 state champion Blacksburg High School won the tournament, and fellow Region 4D member Jefferson Forest High School was a close second. The Comets finished in a tie for fifth place in the season-opener, trailing Blacksburg High School by 20 shots and trailing Jefferson Forest High School by 15 shots.

Judging from that result, it appears the Comets will have to get past those two schools to reach the state championship tournament for a fourth straight year.

“We’re getting to where we need to be,” said first-year Comets head coach David Day.

“I feel like we’re going to have an outside shot of making it back to the state tournament again if we can continue what we’re doing. We’ve got to get 10 to 15 strokes shaved off somehow. That’s around two to three strokes per person to get there. If we can do that, I think we can make it back to the state tournament.”

The Comets have a solid team, a team anchored by seniors Willoughby Gasperini and Will Abdi. Senior Harrison Culpepper also has had a good season, occupying the team’s number three spot.

Past Culpepper, there has been a scramble among several players trying to earn a spot among the six players who compete for the Comets in the matches. That group includes Ryan Corona, Jaxon Lloyd, Cameron Burnett, Will Long, Joseph Wilson and Minjune Kim.

“Minjune has not played in a varsity match yet,” Day said.

“He couldn’t play in one, and the other he didn’t qualify for. He’s hitting the ball pretty well. He hadn’t played any golf for almost a year-and-a-half. Now, he’s playing a lot more golf, and his swing is coming back, and he’s playing smarter golf.”

Day points to Gasperini and Abdi as being the foundation for the team.

“They’ve been here for four years now,” Day pointed out.

“They have played in state tournaments the last three years. They know what it is like. They know the pressure you’re going to get put under when it comes down to it. The others who have played and been on the team and have been around them will be helped by them to see what’s coming.”

Gasperini is optimistic about the team’s prospects of playing its way back to the state tournament.

“I think we’re going to get better as the season progresses,” Gasperini said.

“We’ve got the scores at (number) one and (number) two. We’ve got to get our number three and number four scores down. We’ve got to lower the average between all of us to compete.”

Abdi echoed Gasperini’s optimism.

“I think everything’s clicking right now,” said the Comets senior.

“I think we have a really good shot at winning the district tournament this year and maybe making it back to the state tournament one more time in our senior year. We’ve got to put a little more work in, but I think we can come in and shoot them (Blacksburg and Jefferson Forest) low up there.”

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com.

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com