Abingdon takes M7 golf match after format change offsets Lee player’s hot start

Kevin Mays • Aug 22, 2019 at 8:47 PM

JONESVILLE — Things were going brilliantly for Lee High’s Olivia Baker Thursday through the first five holes of the Mountain 7 District golf match at Cedar Hills Country Club.

The junior had back-to-back birdies and was one under par in the early going of the scheduled 18-hole match. Then, the clouds opened up and the rain and thunder and lightning came.

Because of the extended weather delay, officials were forced to change the format of play to six holes, holes 1 through 6, to get in an official match under VHSL rules.

The switch erased Baker’s play from earlier in the day.

Despite the format change Baker stayed strong and shot a 25 to finish third behind the Abingdon duo of Grace Addison, who shot a 21, and Katie Hall, who finished with a 24.

Dalton Minnick’s 26 and Will Austin’s 28, along with the effort of Addison and Hall, gave Class 3 Abingdon the win with a 99.

Baker’s effort, coupled with Caleb Leonard’s 27, Robbie Burchett’s 28 and Sarah Vaughn’s 32, gave Lee a second-place finish, and the best showing among the Class 2 squads, with a 112.

“I was a little upset because the rain delay took out my holes where I was one under, but I told myself to shake it off and play your game,” said Baker. “I think I still could have shot a lot lower, but I’m still satisfied with what I came in with today.”

Baker’s strong play on the course early this season has drawn a lot of attention from schools on the next level, despite the fact that she is just a junior.

“I’ve had a lot of them that want me to come visit,” she said of colleges interested in her.

Among the schools that have expressed an interest in Baker are Radford, LMU, Mars Hill, Virginia-Wise, Carson-Newman, Emory & Henry, and Ferrum.

“There’s a bunch. So I’m very excited,” said Baker. “I’m still keeping my options open. I just want to explore all of my options.”

As far as focusing on the present, Baker said it’s pretty simple.

“I just want to go out there and play my best game and just see where it takes me,” she said.

Lee High’s final score was one stroke better than third-place Gate City, which finished with a 113.

Luke Wallen led the Blue Devils with a 26, while Brevan Spivey had a 28, Zach Taylor a 29 and Colin Keller a 30.

Union, led by Luke Needham’s 27 and Luke Slagle’s 32, finished with a 131 and one stroke ahead of Wise Central’s 132.

Central’s No. 1 Jack England finished with a 26, while Hunter Loudon and Robbie Wilson each shot a 35 for the Warriors.

Ridgeview rounded out the team scores with a 144.

The Wolfpack was led by Clay Shelton’s 32.

The Mountain 7 will have its second district match of the season on Aug. 29 at Lonesome Pine Country Club near Big Stone Gap.