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Skilled seniors lead Warriors' state title run

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Posted: Monday, October 17, 2011 1:00 am | Updated: 2:23 pm, Wed Jan 23, 2013.

Alex O'Dell, Landon Weis, Brett Warnick and Brett Engle are all similar in several ways. 

The quartet is in its last year of high school, enjoys sports and plays golf for Western Ablemarle. 

Now, all four have something else in common, something current just as of this week. They are now state champions. 

"It means a lot to me," coach Darren Maynard said. "I am so happy for that group. They are probably tired of me saying stories about the two state title teams that we have. They will be remembered as one of the better teams to ever come through here."

On Tuesday, the Warriors won the Group AA state championship at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Front Royal, finishing with a score of 606, winning the competition by six strokes over Cave Spring. 

Maynard is pleased to have his senior go out on top. 

"I felt very relieved and really excited," Maynard said of the win. "I was excited for my senior class. As freshman, they [minus Warnick, who joined his sophomore season] finished as runner-up in the state tournament. Their sophomore year they finished fifth and their junior year they were runner-up. I was really happy for them.

"I think we played fairly well the first day and really well the second day. I was really proud of them for finishing off their rounds under pressure."

O'Dell added: "It was definitely great to win it. Coming in second twice, it's exciting and it makes you feel good, but winning it is on a whole other level. It's kind of just validation that we are a good team...We did it."

O'Dell, who shot a 78 on day one, bounced back with a 68 in round two. 

"That 68 was huge," Maynard said. "I knew sort of halfway through the round where he was and where Landon was, was going to give us a chance to take some medium-range scores. What a clutch performance by both of them.

"He [O'Dell] had some putts not go for him the first day. I think it was the real determination [that helped on the second day]. He wasn't happy with his round for the first day."

But for O'Dell, his mentality did not include round-to-round play. 

"I wouldn't say it's the first round to the second round," O'Dell said. "It was the first nine holes to the last 27. I wasn't scoring those first nine. I was hitting the ball somewhat well, but I wasn't getting the bounces and the luck I needed. The putts weren't falling...I knew it was going to come around.

"I just needed to settle down, calm down. I had been in that position before in states, a year before. Once I got that anxious feeling out of the way, I really started to get some strokes back."

Weis registered a 72 in the second round.

"He played well both days," Maynard said. "He really held us in there the first day. He was real consistent, really steady."

Warnick shot a 79 and both Kyle Landis and Hunter Weis each recorded 81s for WAHS, who won the third state title under Maynard, with the first two titles coming in 2003 and 2004.

"Towards the end of the second-day round, we knew what we had to shoot, where we were," Maynard said. "Those guys, to finish their rounds to secure the win was really clutch. I have to give them a lot of credit for staying tough and finishing things off." 

For Maynard, this one is so special. 

"It's kind of hard to compare, it's kind of like comparing your children," the coach said about his three state titles. "The first was the most exciting because we had never done it before. This one was hard fought, more satisfying than anything else." 

Four seniors after four years. In their last chance, the prize is theirs. 

"It's just been a complete pleasure," Maynard said of coaching the veterans. "They are just a delight to be around. I will miss them dearly." 

It's a season O'Dell will never forget.

"Winning states, having that state banner in the gym, it definitively makes you feel good," he said. "As my coach said when we finally won, 'We are leaving our legacy.'"