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Brooke’s Bilby takes 2-shot lead into final round of state tourney

WHEELING — As the wind swirled around Oglebay’s Jones Course on Tuesday, the best prep golfers in West Virginia went toe-to-toe with the conditions and each other.

When the dust settled, it was Wheeling Park sitting in first place in Class AAA at the end of the day with a score 245.

Huntington and Capital are both on Park’s heels, as they are knotted at 247. Greenbrier East came in at 254.

Brooke’s Ryan Bilby is the Class AAA leader in the clubhouse after the opening round. The junior Bruin fired a 74.

Washington’s Ethan Hardy is second at 76, and Park’s Noah Seivertson is third with a 77.

Wheeling Park’s James Salvatori turned in an 83, but it was No. 4 golfer Owen Leary who made the difference for the Patriots, with a card of 85.

“Our No. 4 man came through with an 85,” Park coach Don Headley said. “The No. 1 and 2 guys have to do their jobs, but the No. 3 and No. 4 guys battle it out for every team. Leary coming in with an 85 was really big and put us in the lead by two shots.

“Noah’s 77 was outstanding — even with a double-bogey on the last hole. He would have shot a 75 if he pars the last hole. James needs to get a little bit lower. He hit some bad shots early but corrected them in the afternoon.”

With defending champion George Washington falling at the regional tournament, it leaves the door wide open for any of the top contenders to win today.

“I’m a little surprised to be leading with a 245,” Headley said. “We’ll take it, but it’s going to be a battle. When the No. 1 team in the state didn’t make it to the state tournament, it opened everybody’s eyes up and gave everybody else in the tournament a chance. It’s still wide open.

“We were in this position years ago, but these young guys haven’t been in this position before. It’s going to be fun to see how they handle it.”

Seivertson began his day on the back 9 and started slow but came alive on the front 9.

“I came to the front 9 and turned it around,” Seivertson said. “I started out 3-under going into the seventh hole. I couldn’t ask for a better turnaround.”

Aside from a double-bogey on the ninth hole, Seivertson enjoyed his run down the stretch — which is his game plan heading into today’s final round.

“I’m just going to go out and have fun,” Seivertson said. “I felt like I was pressing on the back 9, but once I got to the front I was relaxed, having fun and making putts. That’s what I’m going to try to do is have fun.”

It was the opposite for Bilby, who got off to a fast start with a birdie on 10. He added a birdie on 14, before bogeying 16 and 17 on the back and 3, 4 and 5 on the front. He made his final shot of the day count, as he drained a birdie on 9 to pad his lead.

However, it wasn’t an easy day for anyone with the high winds wreaking havoc on the course.

“Sometimes there’s not much that you can do,” Bilby said. “I did what I could. I’ll take this two-shot lead into (today).

“I’m not going to play defensive. When you are four back, you have to go for everything, but I’m going to play smart and aggressive at the same time.”

In Class A, it’s St. Mary’s on top with a 263 and Ritchie County second at 272.

Webster County’s Rigel Wilson carded an 80 to secure the individual lead with Magnolia’s Trey Blain sitting in a tie for 10th at 89 and Wheeling Central’s Justin Doerr tied for 20th at 94.

Fairmont Senior leads Class AA with a 257, followed by North Marion at 268.

Shady Springs’ Todd Duncan is the overall leader with a 72.

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