Ravenwood’s boys and girls golf teams are headed to the state tournament during the same season for the first time in the 19-year history of the program.
The Raptors begin play in the 36-hole Large Class tournament at WillowBrook Golf Club in Manchester on Tuesday.
“It’s really special for our school and, obviously, for the kids,” Raptors coach Teddy Craig said. “For both teams to qualify, that’s very difficult in our region considering the number of good teams in the Williamson County area.”
Ravenwood swept the Region 6 titles on a rainy Monday last week to earn a spot at the state tournament.
“It started out as a light rain that we were playing through and then it got harder,” Craig said. “It was coming down pretty good until the point of, are we going to be able to get through this?”
Then the wind started blowing and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees.
“So it was chilly, it was rainy, it was windy, it was really miserable,” Craig said. “We played through it for a while and then we were probably three or four holes short of finishing the round and that’s when they blew the siren and then everyone has to come to the clubhouse.”
There was a 90-minute weather delay before the golfers finished the round.
This has been a season unlike any other during the coronavirus pandemic with social distancing and temperature checks.
“Throughout the whole process, I’ve been on pins and needles just because I know that these kids have worked so hard to get prepared for this season and I knew that any day we could be shut down depending on things that are out of our control,” Craig said. “So it’s been a little bit nerve-racking for me because I wasn’t so sure two months ago that there was going to be a season.”
Houston, Farragut and Dobyns-Bennett may be the teams to beat on the boys side.
Region 6 champion Cameron Tankersley of Dickson County figures to be one of the top individual contenders.
Ravenwood’s boys will be making their second-ever state appearance.
The Raptors almost went last year after winning the regional, but were disqualified for a rule violation after a golfer played the wrong ball.
“That’s when I lost my mind,” Craig said. “We’d won it, but Franklin got to advance because of the ruling, so I still disagree with it. He couldn’t find the ball and you have three minutes to find it.”
Some other golfers said he took more than three minutes even though there wasn’t a timer.
Seniors Greyson Hurst, Colin Alexander and Collier Thompson and sophomores Conor Caparos and Michael Hake form a balanced team for Ravenwood.
“What’s really cool about this team is the five guys that are going to take the course on Tuesday are so interchangeable,” Craig said. “They’ve all, at one time or another, shot the lowest score so we don’t just rely on two or three guys to lead the way. It could be anybody on any given tournament.”
Hurst shot a 1-under-par 71 to take third at the regional at Greystone Golf Club in Dickson. Hake finished in the middle of the pack at state as a freshman last year.
In last year’s girls state tournament, Ravenwood’s Shelly Jang took third. The junior swept the District 11 and Region 6 championships this season.
“She’s a special talent, she’s played in a lot of big tournaments so nothing is really going to rattle her,” Craig said. “She’s able to slow the heartbeat down and stay focused and do what she does. She’s really good under pressure and obviously she’s got a great game.”
An experienced player who will be making her third state tournament appearance, Jang is strong in all phases of golf.
“I think where she’s the strongest is between her ears,” Craig said. “She just knows what to do regardless of the situation she’s in. She just has a great feel for the golf course and what club to hit and how to play certain shots.”
Ravenwood sophomore Hannah Walton finished sixth and junior Emily Nelson took seventh at the regional.
Defending state champion Station Camp is hoping to repeat.
Craig is in his second year as golf coach after retiring from coaching the Raptors in baseball.
“I’m looking forward to these kids getting the opportunity to go down there and play on the biggest stage in high school golf,” Craig said.