CHURCH HILL — The players continue to change, but the outcome remains the same.
For the 10th straight year Science Hill was tops in the conference boys golf tournament.
The Hilltoppers, led by freshman Zach Botts, posted a winning team score of 307 on Tuesday in the Big 8 Conference championship at Silver Lake Golf Course. Botts was the medalist after shooting a 1-over-par 73.
The Science Hill boys, who have won the conference crown in 16 of the past 18 years, finished nine strokes clear of both Dobyns-Bennett and Tennessee High, which tied for second at 316.
Botts edged runner-up Blake Blizzard of D-B by one stroke. Science Hill’s Rob Fortune, Tennessee High’s Greg Hansen and Volunteer’s Lucas Armstrong tied for third at 75.
Hilltoppers coach Josh Carter said he gave his team simple instructions for playing the Silver Lake layout.
“We talked about being patient with the course,’’ Carter said. “There are some holes you think you can overpower, but it’s best to play smart. They did that today and it paid off for us.’’
Competition among teammates has helped the Hilltoppers steadily improve this season.
“We have a good number of players working hard to earn spots among the top five,’’ Carter added. “That pushes each player to get better.’’
Although just a freshman, Botts is playing his second season with the Hilltoppers’ varsity. He also brings an extensive resumé of national competition to the course.
“All the national tournaments I’ve played have helped me improve my mental game,’’ Botts said. “And my iron play is getting better.’’
It showed on Monday.
“My front nine was solid,’’ Botts noted. “I hit eight greens and shot 1 under on the front. But I was 3 over on the last five holes, so I have to learn to finish better.’’
Carter is well aware that Botts, who won the Morristown High School Invitational earlier this season, is not your normal freshman golfer.
“He brings a great deal of experience to our program,’’ Carter said. “Zach quickly learned that high school golf is all about the team. He’s more interested in us winning as a team than in what he does individually.
“All our guys understand that and it shows in the way we approach tournaments.’’