By Embry Macrobri
The Western Albemarle High School golf team has impressed on numerous levels this season, with every member making the All-District First or Second Team. Named to the First Team were senior Luke Vance, and freshmen Elsie MacCleery and Jack Crombie. On the Second Team are seniors Sam Stoke and John Bond and freshman Addi Ritter. They broke records and won every one of their district matches by a significant margin.
The greatest factor in the success of the team has been the maturity the players displayed regardless of age or experience. MacCleery emerged as one of the top players in Central Virginia, winning District Player of the Year by eleven shots. “It was incredible to watch how she played given that she is a freshman,” said Vance.
“We lost some seniors last year, so the younger players made the team really connect and come together,’’ added Bond.
Every player contributed to the lowest nine-hole score in the history of the Western team. They shot five under as a team with 139 total strokes. “In the beginning of the season I wanted us to shoot under par as a team on our home course,” Stoke said. “Not only did we achieve that, but we were able to break the nine-hole record.”
Vance thought the regularity of in-team competition helped them more than they thought it would. “What greatly helped our competitive edge was the consistency of our high-level competition in practices,” said Vance. They realized later in the season that the decision to compete hard amongst themselves during pre-season helped them prepare for the matches they played in the district and regional tournaments.
“Golfing in the summer before school started and bonding with the team” was one of his favorite memories of the season, Vance said. “We would play nine holes and then go hangout with each other because we had the rest of the day to ourselves.”
“One of my goals was to lead the team at some point in the season, which I was able to do for one week,” said Bond. “My goal was to step into a position where I could help the younger players feel more comfortable.”
After coasting through the district tournament, the team not play as well in the regionals as they hoped. The competition was higher quality, and they missed out on reaching the state tournament by a margin of only ten strokes.
With the extraordinary performances from MacCleery, who won District player of the year, and Crombie, who played in every match as a freshman, the team will continue to be compared to the best golf teams in Central Virginia and is another source of pride for Crozet.