Put the blame on Mother Nature. Afterall, it was her fault that all that nasty weather made its way into the area. In turn, that dicey forecast denied the Watauga High boys' golf team a chance to catch South Caldwell for the No.1 seed among the Class 4A schools in the Northwestern 3A-4A Conference.




The Pioneers, who finished ahead of South Caldwell in Monday's Northwestern 3A-4A Conference match at the Boone Golf Club, fell 19 shots behind the Spartans in their quest. South Caldwell clinched the automatic berth to regionals.


But despite that disappointing finish, WHS will send four individuals to the NCHSAA Class 4A Western Regional Monday at the Northstone Country Club in Charlotte, N.C. Austin Graham, Austin Northern, Troy McNeil and Rory McNeil will represent WHS. Mooresville will be the regional host.


"It's hard to believe four years have gone by so fast," said Graham, who will be featured on the dug out show during WHS' baseball broadcast from Hickory (the game airs at 6 p.m. on AM 1450, WATA and GoBlueridge.net) Thursday night. "I've been playing for coach (Mike) Northern for the last seven years. I started playing for him in middle school. He's taught me a lot about the game, and he's made it fun. He's our biggest fan, and he's always positive. I've really enjoyed playing for him. I'll miss it. Man, it's hard to believe it's my senior year and regionals begin Monday."


Graham paced WHS in Monday's season finale with a six-over-par 77 on the par 71 course. He finished seven shots off the lead behind medalist Jordan Clontz of Freedom. Northern had a 79 on Monday; Rory McNeil had an 85, Troy McNeil had an 86.


The top three teams and the top three individuals not on one of the top three teams will qualify to the state tournament. The Class 4A state championships will be played at the Carolina Trace Country Club (Lake Course) in Sanford, N.C.