BEAN STATION — Jacob Norris is a master at saving par. On Monday, he got up-and-down often enough to make some school history.
The No. 5 man on Cocke County’s golf team carded a round of 74 in the Region 1-AAA tournament at Clinchview Golf Course to give the Fighting Cocks a one-stroke victory over Dobyns-Bennett and a berth into next week’s state tournament.
“This is his kind of course,” Cocke County coach Blake Briggs said. “He hits it about 220 off the tee, but he can get up-and-down out of a trash can. That’s his game and that’s what he did well today.”
As far as Briggs knows, next week’s appearance at the Old Fort Golf Course in Murfreesboro will mark the school’s first trip to the state tournament.
“It’s sort of a dream come true,” he said. “You don’t have to be the best in the state, you just have to be the best that day.”
Led by Zach Briggs’ round of 73, Cocke County recorded a team score of 301.
The Fighting Cocks were then left to wait out a late charge by D-B as Kenneth Miller lined up a birdie putt on No. 18 that could have forced a team playoff.
“It was a heartbreaker,” Miller said of the putt. “It sat there on the edge for a minute — I thought it was going to drop but it didn’t.”
Miller settled for a round of 74, giving the Indians a total of 302. While the Tribe fell just one shot short of a trip to state, there was a silver lining.
Miller qualified for next week’s event as an individual while teammate Drew Daniels beat Zach Briggs in a playoff to win medalist honors and punch his own ticket to Murfreesboro.
Daniels, a senior at D-B, secured his first state berth after missing out last year by one shot.
“I did not think I was going to win today,” he said. “I figured somebody would go low, especially out here.”
Jefferson County finished third with a total of 303. Jordan Jennings and Logan Hance each shot a 74, so both golfers will be representing the Patriots at the state tournament.
D-B coach Eddie Durham said that it’s easy to look back and find a stroke or two that could have changed the outcome of such a close match, but he was proud of his team’s effort.
“The guys played great,” Durham said. “We came down here thinking we could beat Jeff County and we forgot about Cocke County — they snuck right in there.
“I would love for the team to go. Maybe it will be my time one of these days.”
Meanwhile, Jefferson County was able to win the girls’ tournament and earn a spot at state.
Kendall Martindale and Lauren Hodge teamed up to record a 147, giving the Lady Patriots a seven-shot win over Cocke County.
Martindale’s round of 71 made her the medalist while Cocke County’s Levi Clevinger and Cassidy Gibson qualified for state along with Sevier County’s Katie Mitchell and Sara Howard of South-Doyle.