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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Eagles hit the beach in search of state berth

Monday, October 7, 2013

By STEVEN MARSH - Sports Editor

VIRGINIA BEACH -- Lately, Monday has been a day of heightened drama for Franklin County's golf team.

Smith Mountain Lake golf courses The Westlake Golf and Country Club and The Waterfront Country Club have been the sites for the nerve-wracking performances on the first day of the week.

Today, the Eagles, who have captured championships in the Piedmont District and in Conference 3 over the past two Mondays, seek a return to the state golf tournament when they compete in the eight-team Group 6A South Regionals.

Red Wing Golf Course, the site for last year's Group AAA state golf tournament, is the site for the event.

"It's a nice course. It's a flat course. There are several holes that have some length to them,' Eagles head coach Stuart Jamison said. "I'm looking forward to getting back on it. I enjoyed playing it with Kolton (former FCHS standout Kolton Cooper); he did well there (in the state tournament) and I think our guys will do well there too.

"If you are hitting your targets there, you'll do well,' Jamison said.

Frank Cox, Grassfield and Riverbend, each of which was in last year's Group AAA tournament, are in the regional field along with Woodbridge, First Colonial, Western Branch and Conference 3 runner-up Cosby.

Of that trio, Riverbend, a former Northwest Region rival of the Eagles, placed fifth, Grassfield came in sixth and Frank Cox was eighth.

FCHS is competing in a regional tournament for the 15th consecutive year, but the Eagles are seeking their first state tournament berth since 2007, the last year of a run of seven consecutive years in which they qualified for the event (2001-2007).

FCHS also reached the state tournament in 1996 and finished as the runner-up in 1999. Current head coach Stuart Jamison was a player on the 1999 club, which was led by individual state champion Matt Chandler and coached by Jamison father, current assistant coach Charles Jamison.

The top two teams and the top six individuals who are not on those teams earn Group 6A state tournament qualifying berths.

"The 15 regional tournament appearances in a row is a good record to have,' Stuart Jamison said. "I'd much rather have my first state appearance (as a head coach) as team. That's the next big thing on my check-off list.'

The Eagles' run of Mondays started with a four-stroke loss (308-312) to new Piedmont rival Tunstall in a regular-season match at The Westlake Golf and Country Club.

A week later, they returned to the course and avenged that setback. In winning the Piedmont championship, they defeated the Trojans by two strokes, 315-317, and Halifax County (320) by five.

Last week, FCHS shot a 319 at The Waterfront and bested Cosby (323) and James River-Midlothian (323) by four strokes and Patrick Henry-Roanoke (326) by seven shots. Thomas Dale, a 2012 Group AAA state qualifier, finished fifth in the six-team field.

Senior Landon Prillaman, FCHS's anchor player and a fourth-year varsity veteran, shared medalist accolades in both the Piedmont District and Conference 3 tournaments.

Prillaman, who has given a non-binding verbal commitment to continue his golf career at NCAA Division III Ferrum College next year, earned an individual state qualifying berth two years ago as a sophomore.

In the Conference 3 tournament, Jeremy Lester, Tyler Peterson and Brice Arrington carded counting scores. Senior Robbie Canipe, the Eagles' No. 2 performer turned in a non-counting 86, one of his worst scores of the season.

"Robbie didn't play his best (in the Conference tournament), but the way I'm looking at it with him is that we got (this tournament) out of the way, now we can focus (on the regionals),' Stuart Jamison said. "He is a resilient guy and he'll bounce back.'


CHIP SHOTS: Today, Canipe is returning home; he began his high-school career at Great Bridge as a sophomore (he was Great Bridge's No. 4 golfer) before transferring to FCHS prior to his junior year.

Canipe was unable to play golf last fall because of an infection related to what he said was a spider bite he suffered prior to preseason qualifying.

"I tried to try out, but I'd had surgery the night before. It was more difficult than it needed to be,' Canipe recalled after playing in a regular-season Piedmont District match at Bassett Country Club.

"I showed up for the tryout and I got through it. It definitely wasn't fun because I had bandages all over my arms. I wasn't going to give up. I knew I was coming back this year.'

Canipe, who was medalist in two regular-season district matches and who earned all-league accolades, moved to Franklin County with his family when his father got a job as the youth pastor at Franklin Heights Baptist Church.

The courses in the Virginia Beach-Tidewater area are notably flat. Getting used to the hilly terrains of tracks in this area was an adjustment for Canipe

"I wasn't used to these hills. You've definitely got to get used to walking these hills more so that playing them,' Canipe said. "Once I got at it, it wasn't too hard (to adjust). I just had to get used to the distances.'

Canipe said he was eager for this season's August tryouts.

"Oh yes, absolutely. I knew I was going to make it. I was so mad because I knew I should have been on the team (last year). I guess (the year away) gave me time to learn more which everyone needs every now and then,' Canipe said.

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