BY DARREN REESE
TAZEWELL - The disappointment was evident in the voice of Chuckey-Doak head coach Gene Ward Tuesday afternoon following the Region 1-A/AA Golf Championships.
Ward figured that if by some chance tournament favorite Happy Valley happened to slip, his team could make a run at a state tournament berth. The Warriors did falter, but Chuckey-Doak was unable to take advantage.
Happy Valley turned in a four-person total of 316 on a wet and windy day at Woodlake Golf Club, 15 strokes off the pace they used to win the District 1 title last week but good enough to win region and advance to the TSSAA Class A/AA State Tournament for the second consecutive year.
Grainger, which finished runner-up to Chuckey-Doak at last week's District 2 tournament, placed second with a 322. The Black Knights were third with a 327.
"It was very disappointing," said Ward, whose squad entered the regional as a district champion for the first time in almost two decades.
"We were thinking that right around 312-315 would win this thing, and I really thought we had a chance to shoot that. But with the weather, it was chilly, and we hit a few bad shots. Things just didn't go our way."
Grainger County dominated the girls' team scoreboard as sisters Kasey and Kristen Ankrom turned in identical scores of 81 for a 162 total. That was good enough for a 24-stroke victory over Hampton.
Kasey Ankrom needed three playoff holes to claim individual medalist honors over her younger sibling. Happy Valley's Cameron Dugger fired a two-under, 70 to win boys' medalist.
The top team and the four best individual finishers not on that team advanced to state.
Greeneville High School had two of its individuals move on.
Junior Blake Kinser rebounded from a sluggish front-nine 41 to turn in a 77, good enough for the final state qualifying spot.
Kinser made a 30-foot putt for a par save on No. 9 and then birdied the next two holes to get his round headed in the right direction.
"I knew I had to play good on the back," said Kinser, who competed at state two years ago when Greeneville made it as a team. "That putt on nine was huge. It really gave me something to go on for the next nine."
"The last time I went to state, it was a fun experience, being there with the entire team. This year, I will just be more focused on myself and go out to shoot the best score I can."
Greeneville sophomore Grace Gass is also making a repeat trip to state after turning in a round of 92.
"I think it will help (having that experience)," Gass said. "I know what to expect and what it takes now."
Also advancing to state on the boys' side were Daniel Moore of Grainger, Conner Bartow (75) of University High and Garrett Tucker (75) of Cumberland Gap.
Moore tied Dugger for the best round of the day, but lost in a three-hole playoff for the region individual title.
Chuckey-Doak was led by Cory Swinney and Ben Gridley with rounds of 79. Garrett Johnson added an 83 and Tristan Collins an 86 to make up the final team score of 227.
Happy Valley's No. 2 player, Colton Oakes, who won the District 1 individual title last week, struggled to a round of 88 - including a 48 on the back side - which allowed several other teams a fighting chance.
South Greene had one individual competing, Tanner Collins, who carded a 96. West Greene's Noah Wagner turned in an 89. Two other Greeneville boys were in the field - Bryson Dennis and Elliott Snelson both shot a 91.
For the girls, Cumberland Gap's Kaleigh Cline (86), Sullivan East's Holly Hamilton (89) and Hampton's Michaela Matheson (92) move on to state.
Greeneville finished with a 193 team total as Madeline Wood added a 101 to go along with Gass' effort.
North Greene had two girls competing - Mendy McNeese tallied a 116 and Hannah English a 118.
The Class A/AA State Tournament is scheduled for October 9-10 at the WillowBrook Golf Club in Manchester.