BY DARREN REESE
BEAN STATION - With four scores in the clubhouse at the District 2-A/AA golf championships Monday, Grainger County clung to a two-stroke lead over the Chuckey-Doak boys.
But even with only his No. 5 player, Matt DiBella, left on the course, Chuckey-Doak head coach Gene Ward was still feeling good about the Black Knights' chances.
Ward's optimism proved to be spot on.
DiBella turned in one of his best rounds of the season (84) to improve Chuckey-Doak's team score by six strokes, giving the Black Knights a 319-323 win over the Grizzlies at Clinchview Golf Course.
"I was keeping up with the scores, and I knew Matt turned in 43 and then knew what he stood after four holes on the back side," Ward said. "I knew it was going to be really close, but that he had a good chance to cut (Ben Gridley's score) of 90. He ended up bettering that by six strokes."
A trio of seniors led Chuckey-Doak to victory, highlighted by the three-over, 75 round turned in by Cory Swinney. Garrett Johnson added a 77 and Tristan Collins an 83.
"They kind of all flip flop on who is going to be medalist each day," Ward said. "All three of those guys can shoot even par on a given day."
Grainger's top three players were Daniel Moore (77), Landon Cameron (79) and Tanner Jones (80).
With three scores in, Chuckey-Doak led the Grizzlies by one. Then Grainger's Andy Lichlyter turned in an 87 to Gridley's 90 to put the host team out in front, albeit briefly.
"All season long, there have been four teams up there fighting - us, Grainger, Greeneville and Cumberland Gap," Ward said. "We were counting on it being a close match."
Cumberland Gap's Garrett Tucker won medalist honors with a 74.
Grainger County's girls won their second straight district title with a 166 total, led by the medalist effort of Kasey Ankrom, who fired an 81.
The Lady Grizzlies had three of the top individual finishers on the day. Celeste Stratton, last year's district medalist, finished second in a playoff with Cumberland Gap's Kaleigh Cline. Both shot an 85. Grainger's Kristen Ankrom came in fourth with an 86.
"Our girls have had a good season thus far, and that's about the scores they have been shooting, so I couldn't ask for much more than that," Grainger head coach Andy Wells said. "Anytime you win a championship it's a good thing, so I'm certainly proud of them."
The top three teams and the top five individuals not on one of those teams advance to next Monday's Region 1-A/AA tournament at Woodlake Golf Club.
On the boys' side, in addition to Chuckey-Doak and Grainger, Cumberland Gap (333) moves on. So do individuals Tanner Collins (83) of North Greene, Noah Wagner (84) of West Greene, and Blake Kinser (84), Bryson Dennis (86) and Elliott Snelson (89) of Greeneville.
On the girls' side, Grainger, Claiborne (181) and Greeneville (207) advance as teams. Cline and North Greene's Mendy McNeese (119) and Hannah English (151) also see their seasons continue.
There were no other girls who competed in the district Monday, so five individual spots couldn't be filled.
Greeneville was led by 2011 state qualifier Grace Gass, who turned in a 96. Rachel Woody rounded out the team score with a 111.
1. Chuckey-Doak (319): Cory Swinney 75, Garrett Johnson 77, Tristan Collins 83, Matt DiBella 84, Ben Gridley 90.
2. Grainger (323): Daniel Moore 77, Landon Cameron 79, Tanner Jones 80, Andy Lichlyter 87, Nick Diamond 90.
3. Cumberland Gap (333): Garrett Tucker 74, Gavin Burns 86, Jacob Blocker 86, Austin Ribley 87, Gage Barnett 101.
4. Greeneville (353): Blake Kinser 84, Bryson Dennis 86, Elliott Snelson 89, Peyton Gray 94, Lance Hatfield 96.
5. West Greene (384): Noah Wagner 84, Aaron Farris 93, Tristan Brewer 95, Dillon Morelock 112, Tanner Lambert 121.
6. North Greene (400): Tanner Collins 83, Trey Hall 97, Avery Weems 107, Evan Fillers 113, Ethan Harmon 120.
7. South Greene (506) Kenny Redmond 116, Trey Collins 121, Andrew Carter 121, Devyn Wilcox 148.
Individuals: Tyler Overholt, Claiborne 97.
1. Grainger (166): Kasey Ankrom 81, Celeste Stratton 85, Kristen Ankrom 86.
2. Claiborne (181): Brittney Wine 87, Morgan Payne 94, Brittany Heath 100.
3. Greeneville (207): Grace Gass 96, Rachel Woody 111, Madeline Wood 113.
4. North Greene (270): Mendy McNeese 119, Hannah English 151.
Individuals: Kaleigh Cline, Cumberland Gap 85.