JAMES CITY – The odd thing about Virginia High School League golf is that just as most sports are gearing up, especially with the first week of school now in the books, golfers are already preparing for postseason play.
As Jamestown senior William Bell said, at this point in the season, you aren't making wholesale swing adjustments. It's more about execution.
That doesn't mean there aren't unanswered questions for Jamestown, which owns a 150-plus stroke lead on second-place New Kent ahead of the final Bay Rivers District match of the season Sept. 19 at Hamptons Golf Course. The Eagles are searching for their team identity, according to coach Doug Meredith, after having their streak of 13 consecutive district titles snapped last year by New Kent and before missing out on states as a team.
And Jamestown, strengthened by a talented crop of freshmen, is still narrowing down its top six players.
"We have a deep enough program that I have probably eight to 10 kids that can be in that top six," said Meredith. "I have to figure out who they are."
Meredith knows for sure it includes senior leaders William Bell and Triston Buckley, who each made the 4A tourney as individuals last season. Bell leads the district with a 74.17 average, about two shots ahead of New Kent's Robb Kinder, who has a slight edge on Jamestown freshman Kelly Salamy. Buckley is fourth in the district with an average mark of 78.20.
Salamy is the leader of that impressive rookie group for Jamestown that includes Jack DeVore and Bobby Dudeck, who are each competing for a top six slot.
Salamy's impact isn't the least bit surprising to those close to the program. She is the sister of former Jamestown standout Emily Salamy, who helped Memphis, Tennessee's Rhodes College to a Division III national title as a freshman in the spring.
"She has played great," Buckley said. "She has gotten along with a lot of the guys here. Even though she's a freshman, she's still a good role model for these players. Her being one of the youngest out here and still shooting really impressive scores, it pushes a lot of the younger kids and it also pushes us."
Kelly often tagged along with Emily on golfing excursions. Usually, they played different yardages, but now they're at the same level, although Kelly admits her older sister still has the upper hand, for now.
Kelly said entering high school golf, she just aimed to play her best and encourage the other golfers.
She and the freshmen group have blended well with the upperclassmen, which includes senior contributors Trevor Exton and Alex Fitzpatrick.
"It's a nice mix to have," Meredith said, "and it also means the future is going to be bright, I hope."
Jamestown's recent run of success made last year all the more disappointing. The Eagles won back-to-back state team titles in 2013 and '14 after repeating in '09 and '10.
Jamestown controlled district play this season from the onset, its closest challenge coming from New Kent in the second match at Colonial Heritage that the Eagles won by four strokes with a score of 330. Jamestown's best 18-hole showing was a 302 at Kiskiack.
"I think it showed that we all just really wanted to be the district champions again and we were willing to work hard," Bell said. "We weren't going to let other teams get in our way. It means a lot because when we're out there and we're competing for the district matches, it's not like we're just competing against opponents.
"We've known these kids for so long. They're just really great people and the coaches are extremely nice. It's sad that this is my senior year because you go out and there and you compete with your friends that you've known for so long."
Clearly, the goal for a program as strong as Jamestown's is to return to prominence on the state level, but Meredith said the Eagles aren't playing state-level golf yet.
They still have some time for those scores to drop. The conference meet is scheduled for Sept. 26. Only the top two teams will go onto regionals.
"We try not to always think about (states)," Buckley said, "but to play one match at a time and not get ahead of ourselves. Yes, we have the talent to get there and possibly win, but if we're not focused on the moment, we're not going to get there."
Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.