COVINGTON - It's always tough to defend a region championship. It's even tougher to do it with an inexperienced team that's facing a juggernaut.
The Newton girls golf team shot a 240 (top two scorers) and finished fourth, 59 strokes behind champion Greenbrier at the Region 2-AAAAA tournament at The Oaks Course in Covington. The boys also finished fourth as the top four Rams' scorers shot a 418. Greenbrier swept the event, winning the boys portion with an impressive 292
Of the girls' foursome, only juniors Lydia Mikula and Brianna Williams returned from last season's region champion. Mikula led the way, Monday morning, shooting a 112, including matching a personal best with a 52 on the front nine.
"That's a good score for me; I want to get better, but I'm happy with that score," Mikula said. "The conditions were really good; little wet (but) it was warm."
"It was a personal best for (Mikula); I'm very proud of that," coach Kay Wright said.
Freshman Emilie Jones shot a 128 (62 on the front nine), while Williams picked up a par on 16 and shot a 129.
"Overall I'm disappointed that we didn't do better. (But) they're new girls. (Jones) just picked it up, she's been playing about two months. They'll all be back next year."
The boys were led by Franklin Clackum, who shot a team-best 93. Clackum birdied holes two and 12 and picked up two other pars. The junior shot a 46 on the front nine, 47 on the back nine and finished 21 strokes back of boys low medalist Cody Shafer of Greenbrier.
"I think he's capable of a little better," boys coach Steve Spruell said of Clackum. "But it's a good score ... this is his first year."
Also an inexperienced bunch, the boys struggled, Monday. Junior Morgan Page and first-year golfer and senior Gavin Bowman both shot 107, while sophomore Josh Williams, the Rams' No. 2 golfer, and junior John Javis each shot 111. Senior Warren Inge shot a 62 on the back nine and finished at 121.
"All the boys have improved," Spruell said. "I've got some kids with some talent but they've got to learn the game. (Golf) is not something you can just pick up and shoot 70. You've got to play to get better."
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.