By Ken Lay

The L&N STEM Academy golf teams had a big day at last week’s District 2-A/AA Tournament at Ruggles Ferry.

The Gryphons left the par-72 Strawberry Plains golf course as district champions while the Lady Gryphons finished third in the tournament and qualified for today’s (Sept. 26) Region 1-A/AA Tournament as a team for the first time in school history.

The winners of the region championships at Woodlake Golf Course in Tazewell will advance to next week’s Class A/AA State Tournament in Murfreesboro. The top four individuals not affiliated with the region champions will also move on to the State Championships.

The boys team won its second district title in three years. L&N STEM claimed the district title in 2014. The Gryphons had three seniors graduate off that squad but came back to finish second last season. The 2016 team had several returners and added freshman newcomer Thomas Miller, who finished the District Tournament with an 86.

“We had lost some district matches earlier this season and Greeneville had beaten us,” L&N STEM coach Mark Waxmonsky said. “We had some high expectations because we had so many golfers coming back. We had four coming back and they handled things nicely.

“They’ve been at it all summer and they’ve worked extremely hard.”

The Greene Devils might’ve beaten the Gryphons during the regular season, but L&N STEM won last Monday’s district championship by seven strokes over Greeneville.

The Gryphons, who were sparked by Reece Walker’s 75, finished with a combined team score of 328. The Greene Devils (335) were led by Zach Wood, who carded a 77.

Walker, who finished second in the individual standings, led the event through 14 holes before he fell victim to a late surge from Chuckey-Doak’s Ananias Bonnin, who finished with a 74 to claim low medalist honors.

Other scorers for the Gryphons included Jacob Samar, who fired a 79, and Miller. Brandon Blankenship represented the school and posted an 88 but his round didn’t figure into the team’s title.

Claiborne finished third with a 377 and qualified to move on to Tazewell today.

The Lady Gryphons took third at the district tournament and advanced to today’s regional championships.

Northview Academy claimed the title with a score of 187 and was led by individual champion Heidi Lawson, who shot 77. Greeneville was second (192) followed by L&N STEM (201).

Abbey Morgan, who reached last year’s district tournament, led the Lady Gryphons with a 93. Newcomer Sydney Rockwell shot 108. Emma Patterson finished with a mark of 153. Her effort didn’t figure in the final team score.

Waxmonsky was extremely pleased with his girls squad.

“We’re thrilled,” he said.”Abbey was the only girl at district last year,” he said. “This year, we added three more girls.

“Two of the three are brand new to golf [but] sophomore Sydney Rockwell has made us a competitive team.”