Bittersweet region finish for Jamestown; All smiles for Smethurst

—Although Jamestown and Lafayette each fell short of sending teams to the 4A golf championships, each school will send individuals to the Oct. 10-11 tournament at the same Stonehouse Golf Club course where the East regional was contested Monday.

Jamestown senior William Bell will be joined at states by freshman teammate Kelly Salamy and Lafayette will be represented by senior Jacob Smethurst.

Bell, Salamy and the Eagles fell short of reaching the next stage of postseason by only a stroke with a team round of 312. Bell and Smethurst each shot 77 and Salamy put forth an undaunted performance of 70 for the top individual qualifying score of the meet. The top-six individuals on teams that didn't finish in the top two advance.

Hanover was the top overall team with a 305 followed by Great Bridge's 311.

Bell said he was honored to make the individual cut, but acknowledged it isn't the same without his teammates there beside him competing for a title. Bell won a state team title with Jamestown his freshman and sophomore seasons before making the cut as an individual last season with classmate Triston Buckley when the Eagles missed out on the field as a team.

"It was disappointing for the seniors," Bell said. "However, our freshmen Jack (DeVore), Bobby (Dudeck) and Kelly have proved Jamestown has a state title in its future."

Dudeck (83) and Trevor Exton (82) rounded out the top-four for Jamestown Monday.

Salamy, Bell and Smethurst each earned all-region first-team honors, and Lafayette's Preston Ruescher (80) made the all-region second team for Lafayette, which shot 345 overall.

Low medalist and region player of the year honors went to Hanover's Ward Wilkinson, who shot 67 to anchor the Hawks. 

On a course rife with dipping ravines and blind spots, Wilkinson played in the final group with Bell and hit 17 greens, according to the Jamestown senior. "He was draining putts left and right," Bell said.

Bell played with Kelly's older sister, Emily, on the aforementioned state championship teams.

Emily Salamy, the 4A runner-up as a senior in 2014, always seemed to play best on the big stages and her little sister seems to be picking up where she left off.

"To have the poise to go out there and not let the moment be too big for her was impressive," Jamestown coach Doug Meredith said. "And for Will, he deserves this. It has been an absolute pleasure to coach him and really an honor to coach him and watch him get better this year."

Kelly Salamy shot 35 on the front and back nine to finish a shot under par.

"I honestly wasn't hitting very good," she said. "I just got up and down a lot. I chipped in for birdie and I made a lot of birdie putts, too."

Jamestown rebounded from finishing second in the Bay Rivers District last season by dominating the district this season before winning the Conference 18 championship.

"In a moment like this, every player wants to shoulder the blame and they look back at certain holes they could have done better, but they can't do that," Meredith said. "It's golf. It happens. As a team, we've been on the other end of that. We've been the team that finished a stroke ahead before. … They are disappointed, but I think over time, they'll be proud of their accomplishments they've had over their four years."

Smethurst spent much of his four years trying to reach states. He finally got there after missing the field last year by two strokes in Lafayette's first year in 4A.

There may not have been anyone in the clubhouse more anxious waiting for the final couple of groups to come off the course than Smethurst, who bided the time by staring at the leaderboard with Lafayette coaches Pat Thompson and Judi Brimsfield, and intermittently pacing.

"I just felt like he deserved it last year and just felt so sad for him," Thompson said. "This is quite emotional for both of us because I just love the kid."

Smethurst knocked it in the hazard on the 18th hole and made a two-putt bogey to close his round. That followed a double bogey on a par 3 a few holes back. He responded to that one with a birdie on the next hole.

As Thompson said, the wheels could have come off, but one of her hardest-working golfers persevered.

"I'm just really happy with how I played," Smethurst said, "and really excited that Coach T gets to tag along (at states)."

Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.

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