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Golfers wrap up links competition

By Keeli Parkey

The 2017 golf season came to an end for the Unicoi County High School golf teams in the district competition played at Tri-Cities Golf Club in Blountville on Sept. 18.

As a team, the Blue Devils found themselves in last place against a field that included Science Hill, Tennessee High and Dobyns-Bennett. UCHS posted a team score of 526 in the match. Individual scores included: 124 by Ty Thelen, 126 by Caleb Adkins; 147 by Noah Tilson; and 129 by Nicholas Hensley.

“The group of guys battled through,” UCHS head coach Gene Renfro told The Erwin Record. “The conference gave them a preview of what to expect at the district. This is just another building block for them. Many of them are coming from other sports and on this day they had to walk five miles and compete for five hours too against some strong competition. I believe they learned to persevere throughout the process.”

Renfro had set a goal of breaking a 200 team score for the Lady Devils at the district match, but the team fell just short, scoring 226. Individual results for the Lady Devils included Alana Peel’s 106 and Grace Ann Clark’s 120.

“The girls wrapped up the season strong, but a bad hole here and there derailed that goal,” Renfro said. “I am proud of them for competing hard throughout the season.”

Renfro’s first season at the helm of the UCHS golf program had its share of ups and downs – with most of the downs coming at the hands of Mother Nature.

“The first season always could have been better,” Renfro said. “We lost numerous matches due to rain which would have been more time to improve. Unfortunately we cannot control that. I feel like next season the returnees will have an idea of what to expect and will be able to hit the ground running. I feel like we have the most athletic team in the conference. With that the team is very coachable and it was a pleasure to coach them this season.”

Renfro said he saw both squads make strides during the season.

“From day one the guys improved,” he added. “It might not have shown every day, but things here and there. Having the base now and, hopefully, a fire to improve between now and next season we can have dramatic improvements come 2018. The girls had numerous improvements from day one. I feel like their course knowledge improved and their short game as well. The group learned a lot this year. Now we need to build upon that between now and July. On the bus ride home after the District I told them next season starts now.”