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Eagles steady in the clutch

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- With the weather seemingly changing by the minute, Robert C. Byrd's play stayed rock steady.

The Eagles won the Class AAA Region IV golf title at Clarksburg Country Club Monday. The championship was the team's third in the past four seasons and earned it a trip to next week's state championship at the Speidel Golf Course at Oglebay Park in Wheeling on Oct. 6-7.

In Class A, Gilmer County advanced behind the play of Anthony Reale with a low round of 79.

"Last year at Preston County (Country Club) we just weren't on our game," Robert C. Byrd coach Tony Barberio said. "Today, we started out tight, and I was a little concerned when I heard some of the scores.

"But I honestly think schedule a lot of those 18-hole matches early in the year helped us out in the long run. I think you saw that today."

Postseason play is 18 holes rather than nine normally played in most high school matches. With the season starting a week early, the Eagles participated in eight 18-hole events.

While scores fluctuated in the windy and often cool, rainy conditions, Robert C. Byrd's scores varied little. David Rogers carded a 79 for the Eagles, who call Clarksburg Country Club their home course. Matt Bealko, coming off two impressive rounds last week, shot an 81, as did teammate Zach Dyer. Stacy Rogers rounded out the scoring for Robert C. Byrd, which finished with a team total of 332.

Elkins was second at 352, while Preston (353) and Buckhannon-Upshur (358) rounded out the Class AAA field.

"Early on, I saw some other kids coming in with some low scores, but then their 3-through 5-players really had some bigger scores. I knew that's where we could get them," Barberio said. "These kids know this course and they're used to playing 18 (holes). I thought the key would be our play down the middle (of our lineup) and I think that was the case."

In Class A, Gilmer County finished at 358 -- well ahead of runner-up South Harrison with a 389. Notre Dame was fourth at 398 and Clay-Battelle fourth with a score of 636.

The Irish's Matt Perkins earned a berth in the Class A field as the low medalist from the a non-winning team. In addition to each team member from the winning squad, the match's low-medalist not from that team earns a berth.

Perkins, who said he struggled through a three-digit score at last season's regional, shot a 93 Monday.

The score was well off his best round at CCC, but like Robert C. Byrd, Perkins said he benefited from the familiarity of playing the course on a regular basis.

"I think that definitely helped, especially once the weather started getting bad," he said. "There are some great players here. I never thought a 93 would stand. (South Harrison's) Craig Messenger is tough. He's beaten me before.

"When the rain came, you could see a lot of kids really didn't know how to play it. But being here for three years helped out a lot."

Preston's Ryan Alexander finished as Class AAA's low medalist with a round of 75. Teammate Brooks Mersing, playing No. 2, came in with a 78 to give the Knights an early seven-stroke advantage of Robert C. Byrd.

Barberio said the technical layout of Speidel will hopefully play into the hands of his team.

"You have to use every club in your bag when you play there," he said. "We played up there and they boys know the layout, so hopefully that helps us.

"It's got a lot of character and requires good tee shots, and really you have to good in all aspects of your game."

Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at mnutter@exponent-telegram.com