With two of the top teams in the state at Tuesday’s substate round at the Willows at Kenton County Golf Courses, that left just one spot for a team to qualify and advance to next week’s boys state golf tournament in Bowling Green.
South Oldham and St. Xavier dominated the eight-team field by carding a 303 and 306, Ryle the next team to punch their ticket to Bowling Green Country Club with a 319. The Raiders were comfortably in the third spot, defeating fourth place Central Hardin by 14 strokes.
“They really kept their composure,” Ryle head coach William Zapp said. “The course played really tough today and that’s what I love about these kids. They all act like adults out here and handle themselves well. Their mentality out there was really huge today and thinking through things.”
The Raiders were paced by Palmer McKelvey with a 76, fighting off an illness to ensure his team extended its season. McKelvey joked before the round this was going to be his Michael Jordan flu game.
“Just really happy I made it through and kept it together through all 18. Course was playing really hard today. If you missed the fairway it was going to roll a ton because it was so dry,” McKelvey said. “Thought I stroked the ball pretty well and my putting was good.”
McKelvey carded a 38 on the front nine with eight pars and a double bogey. He remained at two-over-par before bogeying two of his final four holes to finish in a tie for 11th.
“Playing with my playing partners made it fun. We were scrambling to make pars and we did, so that made it fun,” McKelvey said. “Not making it to state last year was a dark time. I almost thought about not coming out and playing this year. It feels great to come back and shoot a good score and make it.”
Palmer’s brother Paxton McKelvey followed suit with a 78, Andrew Roach finishing with an 81, Jake Roscoe an 84 and Tanner Lorms an 86.
The Raiders will make their way down to Bowling Green next week for a practice round on Oct. 5 with the 36-hole tournament set to begin on Oct. 6 and run through Oct. 7. Their goal in mind is a top three finish. Tuesday’s round gave them a glimpse of what they’ll need to do to get there playing with South Oldham and St. Xavier.
“That’s the best pairing we’ve had all year. We see it as a compliment to us and get excited to play with those guys,” Zapp said. “It makes the experience even better and now we want to go get a top three finish. We’ve finished fourth four times down there. That’s the goal.”
Newport Central Catholic’s Caleb Eaglin was the lone individual to qualify from NKY. Eaglin was flirting with a round in the red, finishing with a two-over-par 74 and in a tie for sixth. The Thoroughbreds senior started his day rough with a double bogey on No. 10, but battled back with three birdies to get to even par after the turn. Eaglin, who broke both of his wrists in December during basketball season, got to one-under-par and atop the leaderboard after 12 holes of play, but three bogeys down the stretch put him over par.
“Took a lot of work to get back to this point. Was told I’d have a three month recovery and got back in a month and a half,” Eaglin said. “I knew making the turn with a 36 I knew I had a chance. Going to the front nine with the back nine out of the way, the back nine is a lot tougher. I knew I had to step up today with some of the Louisville players coming up.”
He’ll head to Bowling Green looking to build off his 33rd place finish from last year’s state tournament, the NKU commit playing more free with his college decision already made.
“Last tournament of my high school career so just going to give it a run,” Eaglin said.
With the three teams determined, 15 individuals not on those teams had their chance to qualify. Plenty from NKY were just outside the top 15 individual bubble, inlcuding Nate Surrey, who was the odd man out in a three-man playoff for the final two spots. Surrey shot an 80 and tied with Central Hardin’s Rylan Jones and Kentucky Country Day’s Grayson Hayden. Surrey was eliminated on the first playoff hole, a tough break for him considering he was two weeks removed from an appendectomy.
Others to just miss the qualifying cut were Highlands Hank Shick, Campbell County’s Talen Beane, St. Henry’s Will and Ben Carter with 81’s, and Bellevue’s TJ Sorrell with an 82.
Highlands finished sixth in the team standings with a 343, Covington Catholic in seventh with a 351. The Colonels No. 1 Mitchell Gastright got off to a hot start, but was disqualified during the round. The Colonels top finisher was Jacob Thomas with an 84 and in a tie for 39th.
The boys state tournament will feature nine teams and 45 individuals not on those teams in the 36-hole tournament. Outside of St. Xavier, South Oldham and Ryle, McCracken County, Greenwood, Marshall County, Madison Central, George Rogers Clark and Rockcastle County will make up the field.
- South Oldham — 303*
- St. Xavier — 306*
- Ryle — 319*
- Central Hardin — 333
- Spencer County — 334
- Highlands — 343
- Covington Catholic — 351
- Harrison County — 361
*= Qualified as team for state tournament
INDIVIDUAL SCORING (Top 25)
Caleb King, South Oldham — 71
Griffin Barke, South Oldham — 71
Luc Kelty, St. Xavier — 73
Brady Smith, CAL — 73*
Tyler Wirth, Oldham County — 73*
Levi Keith, LaRue County — 74*
Caleb Eaglin, Newport Central Catholic — 74*
Sam Guest, Collins — 74*
William Hudson, Trinity — 74*
Will Warms, DuPont Manual — 75*
Landon Skees, Grayson County — 76*
Max Terrell, South Oldham — 76
Brody Alexander, St. Xavier — 76
Palmer McKelvey, Ryle — 76
Matthew Money, Trinity — 77*
Seth Shelley, Spencer County — 77*
Ty Rutlinger, St. Xavier — 78
Brady Faulkner, CAL — 78*
Paxton McKelvey, Ryle — 78
Gehrig Galvin, Elizabethtown — 79*
Will Stuart, St. Xavier — 79
Christian Clements, Eastern — 79*
Rylan Jones, Central Hardin — 80*
Grayson Hayden, KCD — 80*
Nate Surrey, Highlands — 80
*= Qualified as individual for state tournament
For complete scoring, visit: https://www.golfgenius.com/pages/9112259254873505491