Hylton golf Coach Rick Pennline took time during the Virginia AAA state golf tournament Tuesday to thank his players for getting back to the tournament for the fourth time in his seven years as coach. It was a bittersweet moment for Pennline, who knew that as he spoke, before the second day of the 36-hole tournament at Raspberry Falls Golf and Hunt Club in Leesburg, he could be signaling the end of his team's run as an area golf power.
If it was, Pennline's team didn't go out with the championship it had hoped for, finishing in sixth place out of eight teams with a two-day total of 658. Frank W. Cox High won the tournament with 640, followed by Franklin County (645), Clover Hill (647), Langley (650) and Fairfax (653). Franklin County's Matt Chandler shot 147 to win individual honors.
The Bulldogs were led by sophomore Dan Powe, who shot 162 over both days, including 76 Tuesday, and senior No. 1 player Chris Gentile, who also shot 162. Senior Matt Buttgereit, the team's No. 2 player, shot 165.
Over the past seven years, Hylton has won four Northwestern Region titles and has sent at least one individual golfer to the state tournament two other years. The Bulldogs have dominated the Cardinal District, which they've won in each of the program's seven years.
But the team's ability to continue its dominance is in doubt. Next year, Forest Park High is scheduled to open in Montclair, an area that traditionally has provided Hylton with its best golfers.
In fact, Powe, who would be the team's best returning player, has the option of going to the new school, although he hasn't decided yet. One of his sophomore teammates, Joey Boivin, will be forced to switch schools. Another, sophomore Steve Frederick, has to stay at Hylton.
"I'm sort of stuck in the middle," Powe said. "I don't know what to do. I'm just going to see what my friends do and make a decision from that. Golf is the main factor. A school's a school. I won't miss Hylton if I go somewhere else."
Pennline is similarly unsure of his plans. He said he hasn't decided whether he will stay at Hylton, join Boivin at Forest Park or move to another school. He said Powe's decision would have an impact on his own.
"There's a lot of changes coming on," Pennline said. "I'd like to stay with [Powe] everywhere I go. He's a neat kid. He's enjoyable to be around."
Pennline called Powe the most improved player on the team. He struggled last year, ending his year with a 98 at the regional tournament. But he has rebounded, and if he decides to return, Pennline said there's still hope for Hylton.
"I don't really worry about the move," Pennline said. "As far as the school's concerned, if they lose a lot of kids it'll be tough [for the golf program] to come back. But two years ago, after winning the regionals, I said we wouldn't be back to states, and here we are."
Note: Osbourn junior Jonathan Sumner, who was competing as an individual, shot a two-day total of 165.
CAPTION: Chris Gentile hits out for the Bulldogs, whose head golf coach may not return next year.
CAPTION: No. 2 player Matt Buttgereit (left), and his Hylton teammates placed sixth out of eight teams in the Virginia AAA state tournament. Osbourn junior Jonathan Sumner recorded a two-day total of 165.