Rockets garner a pair of early wins

Friday, August 8, 2014
From left, Tim Elliot, Robert Garcia, Jarvis Lyttle, and Hawken King watch as Forrest head coach Jeremy adds up the scorecards on Tuesday at Henry Horton State Park. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Forrest golf team opened their prep sports season with a pair of wins, beginning with a 187-217 win at Fayetteville, before coming up with a close 177-184 over Cornersville Tuesday at Henry Horton State Park.

"It's always nice to get a 'W', so getting two in a row is even better," said Forrest coach Jeremy Jean.

Key player

Forrest's Gary Lukonen putts for a birdie on the 367-yard par-4 fourth hole at Henry Horton.

Junior Gary Lukonen provided the anchor in both matches, shooting a 44 at Pebble Creek in Fayetteville and the state tournament participant from last season came back with a smooth 2-over-par 38 on the Rockets' home course in Chapel Hill.

"Gary has played a lot this summer and his scores have shown it. He has stepped into a different role this year, with not only being our No. 1, but with helping the other players out during practice," said Jean. "I think that his game will continue to improve with him doing that. If he can keep calm and not get frustrated during matches, he has a really good chance to get back to region and state."

Behind Lukonen are a bevy of Rockets vying for the No. 2 spot in the rotation as Hawken King tied Lukonen with a 44 at Fayetteville, while Robert Garcia carded a solid 42 versus the Bulldogs.

Top four

Other scores from Fayetteville include a nice 46 by Tim Elliott and a 48 from Jarvis Lyttle to round out the top four scores used in the final tally.

Garcia struggled with a 53 and Jamie Pratt carded a 66 for the Rockets.

"Our goal by the end of the regular season is to have a 165 as a team score. I believe that we can get that and maybe even a little lower," said Jean. "In order to do that, we have to minimize the damage on holes when we hit a bad shot. We can't have a scorecard full of triple bogeys."

Heath Jefferies was low man for the Fayetteville Tigers with a 53, while Will Clark was one shot higher than his teammate and both Luke West and Nick McGeo shot identical 55s.

The Lady Rockets also came up with a win as Dani Hoeft led the girls with a 56 and Micah Toombs netted a 69.

Caitlyn Plunkett was Fayetteville's lone girl golfer and she came home in 50 strokes.

Cornersville ace Tate Lowery tries to get out of some trouble on the fourth hole.

Close match

The outcome of the match versus Cornersville was in doubt most of the afternoon as the Bulldogs fought and grinded before coming up short.

Colby Downs led the Dawgs with a 41 on the Buford Ellington tract inside Henry Horton State Park, while Bulldog anchor Tate Lowery got off to a slow start and came home in 43 swings of the club.

Matthew Karban chips up to the seventh hole versus the Rockets.

J.D. Crabtree netted a 48, Matt Karban needed 52 strokes, Zach Smith signed for a 58, Shelby Luna had a 65 and Colton McVey rounded out the scoring for Cornersville with a 71.

"Cornersville is a much improved team from our matches last year," said Jean. "They have a couple guys in Lowery and Downs that could have a chance to get past the district if they continue to hit shots like they did today."

King carded a 46 versus the Bulldogs, while Elliott had 51, Lyttle netted a 55, and Pratt signed his card for a 60.

"We want to continue to improve individually to give us a chance as a team to get to the region," said Jean. "It will be a tough road in the district we are in, but it is possible. We want to have four guys at 40 or lower by the end of the regular season, and two girls under 50."

Girls action

Forrest's Caitlyn Burt and Cornersville's Emma Reese are all smiles before they tee off on the sixth hole at Henry Horton.

The Lady Rockets eked out a 112-116 over the Lady Bulldogs as Hoeft and Caitlyn Burt shot identical 56s at Henry Horton.

Toombs struggled a bit on Tuesday, needing 66 strokes.

Cornersville's Carly Salsman hits a nifty fairway wood on to the fourth green at Henry Horton.

Carly Salsman matched Burt's and Hoeft's 56, while Emma Reese carded a 60 for Cornersville and Ellie Jackson turned in a 67.

"I think the girls are on the right track to compete in the district, but just like the boys they have to stay out of trouble on the course, and minimize the damage when they do," said Jean.