DOBSON — This season’s success was no different than in the years prior, as Surry Community College’s golf team claimed their fourth championship title of the past eight in Region X play.
Surry Community College is sending freshman Chris Dorsett to the NJCAA Division II National Championship held in Arizona next month. Dorsett, who helped Mount Airy High to win the state championship a year ago, was named the region Golfer of the Year. Head Coach Tom Pendergraft also brought home Region X Coach of the Year.
Surry Community earned its spot to be one of three of the conference’s teams to advance to the District J tournament held Monday and Tuesday in Duncan, South Carolina, where region champions from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee will be featured. Region X did not have a region tournament, but instead sent its top three teams to District J in hopes of advancing to the NJCAA Division II National Championship.
Surry finished third in the District J tournament with their team score of 612. Since only the top two teams had a chance to advance to nationals, Surry did not get the berth. The Knights did, however, win the Region X title by defeating Johnston Community College (617) and Patrick Henry Community College (678), two of the Knights’ regional competitors. Dorsett will compete in the national championship due to his placement among the top two at District J, and did so being from a team that didn’t qualify for the trip itself. The Player of the Year accolade for Dorsett could be attributed to his two-day total of 148, the best score in comparison to the other Region X golfers.
“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 70s, 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.”
Freshman Dorsett will be the sixth Surry Community College player to represent the Knights since the school reinstated golf eight years ago. Surry ranks 11th in the nation on par 5s, and 24th nationally on par 3s, in relation to other Division II junior colleges. In eagles, the Knights are ranked 12th in the nation, while Gunnell is sixth among individuals in Division II golf on par 5-holes, and Ray is ranked 43rd. Teammates Gunnell and Dorsett are tied 12th nationally in eagles.
In comparison with all schools that compete in collegiate golf, including NCAA squads, Surry is ranked 550th out of 947 teams on par 5-holes, and Gunnell ranks 551 out of 2,330 college golfers as an individual nationally in eagles of all divisions.
Dorsett, along with Head Coach Pendergraft, will travel to Mesa, Arizona, for the NJCCA Division II National Championship at the Long Bow Golf Club, May 20-26.
The Long Bow Golf Club isn’t an unfamiliar venue for Pendergraft, as he has previously taken two female golfers to the same location for 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.