Despite a rough few opening holes, No. 2 Mississippi Gulf Coast has the lead after one round of the NJCAA District D Championship, up three strokes on No. 3 Meridian.
The Bulldogs shot 4-over, and Brice Wilkinson (Fr. Madison Central/Madison) leads the individual standings a 3-under.
"We just got off to a slow start again," Gulf Coast coach Tommy Snell said. "We had two doubles on the first hole, and then Jackson (Wedgeworth) played awful on the first nine. I was really proud of him fighting back like that. Colby Blake played really solid all day. He couldn't get anything to drop and still shot even-par."
Wilkinson went in the water on No. 10, the first hole of the round, saved par and then bogeyed No. 11. That was the only hole he played over par, though. He made two birdies before the turn, and another two after to lead Meridian's Rhett Walters by two shots
"He made a lot of greens and made a couple putts," Snell said. "He just hits it solid."
Blake (So., Parklane/Tylertown) had a double bogey on No. 11 but got a couple of birdies to get back to even by the end of the round.
Wedgeworth (So., West Jones/Soso) doubled the first hole and then had five more bogeys to finish the first nine at 7-over. He methodically started putting up red numbers on the second nine, getting four birdies to get into a tie for sixth.
"When you consider all that, we did OK," Snell said. "It could have been better. We hung in there and didn't shoot ourselves in the foot. I'm really proud of those guys for hanging in and fighting."
The top three teams plus two individuals will qualify for the NJCAA Tournament, to be played in Foley, Ala., next month. The Bulldogs are firmly locked into one of those spots, but they are looking to win a district title again. They had a streak of nine straight region/district titles snapped last year.
The key to doing that likely involves playing better coming out of the clubhouse for Sunday's final round.
"We have to come in tomorrow and hopefully get off to a better start," Snell said. "We're going to talk about those first few holes and see what we can do differently. We just need to stay away from the double bogeys. It's hard to beat a really good team like Meridian when you make those mistakes."
|1. Gulf Coast||292 (+4)|
|2. Meridian||295 (+7)|
|3. Copiah-Lincoln||311 (+23)|
|4. East Central||315 (+27)|
|5. East Mississippi||332 (+44)|
|1. Brice Wilkinson||69 (-3)|
|T3. Colby Blake||72 (E)|
|T6. Jackson Wedgeworth||75 (+3)|
|8. Carter Nicholson||76 (+4)|
|T14. Colby Entriken||78 (+6)|
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