By STEVE WILLIAMS
There was some talk going around after the first day of the state 2-A championship that Salisbury coach Dale Snyder could have made a nice piece of change selling off something he didn’t really need.
In high school golf, the top four scores of six are counted in the team total and Salisbury had a pair of 76s that didn’t figure in. Those scores could have been used by every other team in the field. In fact, they would have been either the first or second best by eight of the Hornets’ 11 opponents.
It was that type of performance at Longleaf Golf & Country Club that carried Salisbury to its second straight golf title in dominating style. They posted a 290 on that first day to open a 13-shot lead over North Lincoln, bettered it with a 283 on day two and carried the trophy home on a 31-shot cushion.
“You don’t win this tournament with one or two good players,” Snyder said. “You’ve got to have a crew and we’ve got a crew.”
A swarm might be better word to describe these Hornets. After counting 70-73-74-74 on day one, they brought out the real stingers on day two with 69-69-70-75.
The undisputed leaders of the hive were four seniors: Alex Nianouris, Troy Beaver, Alex Lee and Clark Alcorn.
“This senior class, the (worst) they have finished is fourth in the state,” Snyder said. “You can’t even begin to put it into words. Just four kids who do everything you ask them to do and give it everything they’ve got.”
Nianouris almost made it a sweep for Salisbury as he tied North Surry’s Taylor Coalson at the top of the leaderboard with 70-70, but fell short in a sudden death playoff that went two holes. With Coalson already in the clubhouse, Nianouris battled back and got even with a chip-in birdie on the par-5 17th.
But the disappointment of the playoff loss lasted only until he was greeted by his teammates just off the green.
“It was more about team to me,” Nianouris said. “I definitely wanted to win the individual but I’m just glad our team won with the other seniors.
“The first two years we played in states, we kind of struggled a little bit so it’s just so fulfilling to get these last two. We’ve become so close over these last four years. We’re all going to play in college with the exception of Clark, but he could, and we’ll stay in touch.”
Nianouris will be playing at Davidson and Beaver at Elon, so they’ll be Southern Conference rivals. Lee is set to play at Catawba. Alcorn had offers to play in college but instead will focus on academics while attending North Carolina.
“We’ve been friends since we were in kindergarten together and we’ve played golf since we were in the fifth grade with Alex Lee’s dad coaching us,” said Beaver.
Brian Lee, father of Alex, is head professional at Warrior Golf Club just outside of Salisbury.
Beaver and sophomore Eric Edwards led the Salisbury charge on day two with 2-under-par 69s.
Beaver, the Hornets’ second player off the tee, set the early pace, making the turn in 3-under-par and playing steady the rest of the way.
Edwards matched Beaver’s score – the only two of the tournament in the 60s. He had five birdies in his round, including a 40-footer on the par-3 15th. He added another birdie at 17 and a par at the difficult 18th for a fantastic finish that gave him third place in the state.
Beaver ended fifth with 76-69, Lee was ninth with 74-75 and Alcorn was 27th with 73-84.
Joseph Rusher, a junior, didn’t have a counting score either day for the Hornets (he had one of the 76s on day one) but his 161 total tied for 32nd among the 84 players in the field – further proof of the team’s top-to-bottom strength.
Salisbury became the first school to win state golf championships in both girls and boys in the same academic year. The Hornet ladies brought home the title from Longleaf last November.
Snyder also coaches the girls’ team, but he deflected any credit.
“There are probably 100 people responsible for that happening and I’m somewhere in the 80s or 90s,” Snyder said. “I’m just so lucky. We’ve got great parents and great kids.”