Surry captures Region X golf title; Dorsett qualifies for nationals
For the fourth time in the past eight seasons, Surry Community College’s golf team has won the Region X championship.
Not only did the Knights sweep all of the region’s postseason hardware, SCC will also send freshman Chris Dorsett to the NJCAA Division II National Championship in May in Arizona. After winning the Region X championship as a team, Surry coach Tom Pendergraft has been named Region X Coach of the Year and Dorsett has been chosen as the region golfer of the year.
By virtue of their regular-season performance, the Knights were one of three Region X teams to advance to the District J Tournament held Monday and Tuesday in Duncan, S.C. The tournament includes region champions from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Region X elected not to have a region tournament, however, instead sending its top three teams to District J for a chance at advancing to the NJCAA Division II National Championship.
Only the top two teams from District J advance to the nationals, however, and Surry missed by finishing third with a team score of 612. But the Knights captured the Region X title by virtue of topping its other regional competitors – Johnston Community College (617) and Patrick Henry Community College (678). Dorsett punched his ticket to the national championship by placing among the top two at District J from a team that didn’t qualify for nationals. A 2016 Mount Airy High School graduate, Dorsett’s two-day total of 148 was the best score among Region X golfers, paving the way for him to win player of the year honors.
“Chris kind of set it on fire in the second round with a 72,” Pendergraft said. “He’s improved tremendously. The last four events he has been in the high seventies and even low eighties. When he first started he was consistently in the seventies at the first of fall. Then all of a sudden maybe realizing the talent he was competing against and the pressure on him, he kind of got in a slump. I continuously tell these guys you can play with the best of them, you just have to maintain your composure. But he is young and I am looking for pretty big things for him next year. Chris will have to step to the front of bus next year.”
In South Carolina, sophomore Nick Gunnell recorded Surry’s second-best two-day score with a 152. Grayson Ruble carded a 156 for the tournament, Jack Edwards finished with a 157 and Dylan Ray shot a 164 over the two days.
“The first round, two of my top guys didn’t shoot what they normally shoot. We had two guys out of the seventies, which hurts when you are competing against the competition we are competing with,” Pendergraft said. “I really thought that we had a chance of winning, or at least being one of two teams to go to nationals this year. If it was like in past, we would have gone to the national championship as the winner of Regional X, but they have changed the rules. I think I have an exceptionally good team and am just sorry we weren’t able to cross the threshold to the national tournament this year, but it was not meant to be.”
Still, the Knights have plenty to brag about. Since Surry reinstalled golf eight years ago, the Dobson school has won the region title four times. Dorsett will be the sixth SCC player to represent the school at nationals during that span. Among Division II junior colleges, Surry ranks 11th in the nation on par 5s and 24th nationally on par 3s. The Knights are ranked 12th in the nation in eagles, while Gunnell is sixth in Division II among individuals on par-5 holes and Ray is ranked 43rd. Gunnell and Dorsett are tied for 12th nationally in eagles.
Among all schools that compete in collegiate golf, including NCAA teams such as Duke and Wake Forest, Surry is ranked 550th out of 947 teams on par-5 holes. As an individual, Gunnell ranks 551 out of 2,330 college golfers nationally in eagles in all divisions.
Dorsett and Pendergraft will travel to Mesa, Arizona for the NJCAA Division II National Championship at the Long Bow Golf Club from May 20-26. Pendergraft took two ladies golfers to the same course for the nationals three years ago.
“I am familiar with it and hopefully I can shed some light with Chris when we get there as far as the golf course,” Pendergraft said.
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