County golf: White Plains shooting for sweep, Jenkins for two-sport glory

Joe Medley, The Anniston Star, Ala.
·5 min read

Apr. 2—The front nine of Wesley Jenkins' busy Friday started with tapping a little white ball in a hole with a wedge-ended stick. On the back end, he'll try to kick a bigger ball into a net.

With both kinds of balls and modes of delivery, he hopes to emerge from the weekend a Calhoun County champion.

"That would be awesome," Jenkins said. "That's the goal, for sure."

Jenkins shot 1-under-par 71 in Friday's first round of the Calhoun County golf tournament at Pine Hill, leaving him tied with Weaver's Nick Ledbetter for second place and five shots back of White Plains teammate Kenny Okins.

White Plains' boys' foursome commands the team field at 291, 70 shots better than second-place Oxford.

White Plains' girls' trio, led by Abby Gattis' tournament-best 82, shot a team score of 258 and leads second-place Alexandria by 24 strokes.

Jenkins completed his round at about 2 p.m. Friday, five hours before White Plains' soccer team was to play Weaver in the Calhoun County semifinals at McClellan.

The soccer match should wrap up about 9 p.m., 11 hours before Jenkins' tee time in county golf's final round. If White Plains wins in Friday's soccer semifinals, the Wildcats will play in Saturday's 1 p.m. final.

"I might show up at halftime, or something," Jenkins said. "I'm not sure."

Jenkins plays center-midfield for White Plains' soccer team. He'll cover a lot of ground running on a soccer field after covering lots of ground walking a golf course.

The spring high school sports season features six sports, including golf and soccer. It's not unusual for athletes to play multiple sports. Conflicts can arise.

In Jenkins' case, the county golf and soccer tournaments fell on the same week. The final two rounds of soccer play out on the same days as the first and second rounds of golf.

"It really hasn't been an issue until this weekend," White Plains golf coach Chris Randall said. "Wesley manages his time great, with part time here and part time with soccer.

"We really haven't played at the same time. If we have a match, then he goes to the soccer game. If we have a tournament, he usually comes with us."

White Plains' boys are the clear favorite to win the county title in golf. The soccer team is unbeaten (8-0-1) and carries the No. 2 seed, behind Donoho, the team that tied the Wildcats this season.

The soccer team advanced to the semifinals with a 3-0 victory over Saks on Tuesday.

"It's a lot on my plate," Jenkins said.

Jenkins' round Friday included birdies on Nos. 5 and 15.

"I was hitting it pretty good at the beginning," he said. "I was thinking today, just play it safe, make par on par holes and birdie on birdie holes."

He hit what Randall called "as good of a golf shot as you'll ever see" on 18, hitting out of the trees and over the water to establish position for a birdie.

"He had to hook it through an opening so much that it started at one tee box, and he hooked it that far, and it almost went in," Randall said. "He taps in a 6-inch putt for birdie."

Okins, the tournament leader at 66, started with birdies on 1 and 2.

"That was a good sign for me," he said. "Throughout the round, I made most every 5-foot putt I had, which is a big thing out here for me, and I hit my wedges close."

Okins finished with eight birdies, a round Randall called "lights out."

White Plains also got a 75 from Payton Bradley and 79 from Gage Miller.

The Wildcats have battled Donoho for county supremacy in recent years, winning in 2017, finishing behind the Falcons in 2018 and winning in 2019. There was no county tournament in 2020 because of COVID-19.

Donoho went on to win a state championship in 2018 and finish second in 2019, but the Falcons don't have a boys' team this year.

White Plains' girls won state titles in 2015 and 2016 and have dominated the county scene in recent years. They hope to win their fourth title in as many county tournaments.

This team is the first in nine years to not have a player named Dyar contending. Hanna Dyar graduated in 2020 and joined sister Layne at Jacksonville State. Layne is a senior and Hannah a freshman on JSU's team.

Gattis said not having Hanna Dyar around "hurts."

"Me and her were best friends," Gattis said. "I looked up to her my whole high school golf career, since seventh grade. She was the one to help me through to get me where I need to be, always encouraging.

"It hurts, but I want to take her place and make White Plains look good, now that she's gone."

White Plains also got an 87 from Bailey Webb and an 89 from Isabel Rogers.

"Nobody played great, but nobody played bad," Randall said. "Everybody played steady. ...

"We've got our hands full. I definitely like our play today, but Alexandria is good. They can go low, so we can't relax."

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.