As the team scores were posted Monday at the Northwestern Region golf tournament at Lee's Hill in Fredericksburg, revealing that Osbourn Park had missed out on a third straight trip to the state tournament by a single stroke, Yellow Jackets senior standout Daniel Kefale thought of the 17th green.
On that hole, Kefale settled for par after his six-foot putt for birdie lipped out of the hole. "That's going to cost us," Kefale remembered saying to himself.
Such missed opportunities did, in fact, cost the two-time defending region champion Yellow Jackets, who totaled a 318, one shot behind second-place Patrick Henry (317). Franklin County (311) won the team title.
Only two teams qualified for the state tournament.
Kefale would birdie the 18th hole to close out his round at 3-under par 69, more than enough to capture the region individual title for the second straight year; individual runner-up K.C. Kerr of Brooke Point shot a 75. And even though Kefale qualified to participate in his fourth state tournament, he was disappointed by the team's failure to advance.
"When you have a team like this where everyone's scores are low, it's inevitable that you are going to look back and blame yourself for missing a stroke here or there," Kefale said. "I know everyone on the team felt like that . . . we came so close."
In the team competition, Forest Park finished fifth (334), two strokes better than sixth-place Osbourn. But both schools will be represented at the state tournament.
Osbourn senior Nathan Manis (76) and Forest Park senior Brad Howard (77) will join Kefale and Osbourn Park junior Alan MacMullin (77) at the Virginia AAA tournament Monday and Tuesday at Lake Chesdin Golf Club in Chesterfield, south of Richmond.
Manis competed at states two seasons ago as a sophomore, shooting a 74 on the first day. Howard, meanwhile, is the first Forest Park golfer to advance in school history, Coach Babette Overman said.
"I think the course was a challenge for everybody because of the conditions and where they placed the tee boxes and pins," Overman said. "We were hoping to finish third or fourth, but I think everyone is happy that Brad gets to go on to states."
MacMullin's state-qualifying round was something of a surprise since he has consistently finished third for the Yellow Jackets this season and he struggled with an injured shoulder at last week's Cedar Run District tournament.
"If you needed a guy to be a bulldog about something and never back down, he is the kind of kid you wish you had," Osbourn Park Coach Mike Foley said.
"I don't know what to call it, but the bigger the tournament, the more he rises. I think this tournament was a lesson in how to handle given conditions, because the kids who adapted well, played well."