The Floyd E. Kellam golf team entered Wednesday’s 6A South Region tournament in uncharted territory.
None of the Knights had ever played on the Magnola Green course in Richmond, so the young group would have to overcome an unfamiliar setting.
Playing ‘on the road’ was the only factor coach Jason Copeland worried about prior to the match.
Based on his team’s performance, he doesn’t have to worry about it anymore.
Kellam finished first with a combined score of 322, securing a final-four spot in next week’s state championship rounds on the same course. First Colonial, Franklin County and Riverbend all finished in a three-way tie (324), before Riverbend won the tiebreaker.
“These guys fought all day,” Copeland said of his team, which endured its fair share of struggles on a new course. “I’m proud of how they handled themselves during some bad holes. Nothing fazed them. … It’s probably why we advanced.”
Cam Barackman led the Knights shooting a 76, followed by Leonard Park (78), Dylan Martin (80) and Matt Wawner (88).
Based on their season averages, Wednesday’s showing wasn’t one of Kellam’s best days. Copeland anticipated that the unfamiliar course would likely result in higher scores.
“I told them to relax, enjoy it and don’t let a bad shot bother you,” Copeland said. “You have to think of the team and not just rely on yourself. Collectively, they got it done.”
The Knights left Richmond wealthier in knowledge of how to approach next week’s two-day tournament. They experienced the ins and outs of the challenging course, and where and where not to place the ball on certain holes.
More importantly, they left hungrier.
While Kellam was thrilled to advance to the 6A state final for the first time as a program, having played in Group 5A prior to this season, the Knights didn’t gloat about their overall performance.
To win the program’s first state championship since 2010, they’ll have to perform much better.
“We didn’t play our best today,” Barackman said. “But we know it’s only going to get better. … Now we know that we can win on this course, and we’ll take that confidence with us all next week.”
Kellam winning on one of its worst days of the season is a scary thought for next week’s opponents.
“We know what we’re capable of,” Wawner said. “Just have to focus on playing our game and not worrying about anyone else. If we play our normal rounds, we’ll have a pretty good chance.”
Follow Joe Saade’s coverage of Virginia Beach high school sports on Twitter @SouthsideTeams. To submit story ideas, or to suggest players or teams to profile, email him at Joe@southsidedaily.com.