Darren Maynard is listed as a health and physical education teacher at Western Albemarle High School, but the veteran coach showcased his psychic abilities prior to Wednesday’s Jefferson District golf tournament at Old Trail Golf Club.
On Tuesday, he pulled Brian O’Dea aside following the team’s practice round and told him he was going to shoot 75 or better during the district tournament. The sophomore standout did just that, carding a 71, his first sub-par round of the season, as Western Albemarle (313) edged regular season champion Albemarle (322) for the district title.
“He sort of looked at me and smiled,” Maynard said. “He sort of felt it and I felt it and he came through big for us today.”
O’Dea birdied both par 5’s and added another one on the 16th hole to put him in a tie with Albemarle’s Jack Bruns at 1-under. The sophomore had a chance to claim outright medalist honors for himself, but his five-foot putt on the final hole came up just short. He shared medalist honors with Bruns.
Prior to Wednesday’s performance, O’Dea’s best showing this season was a 1-over-par in a nine-hole match. For O’Dea, he knew this day would come.
“This means a lot,” O’Dea said. “The course was in great shape and the greens we’re running really well. I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. I was putting pretty good, but I missed some short putts. It’s what I’ve been expecting to play like all year.”
Bruns, who won the regular season medalist honors by nearly 10 strokes, turned in another stellar effort for the Patriots. The senior was 2-under through 17 holes, but “a poor club selection” off the tee on 18 landed his ball in the hazard and forced him to drop for relief. He finished strong with a big 8-foot-putt for bogey to end the round.
Bruns finished the tournament with five birdies and four bogeys.
“I made a lot of birdies today, which was nice,” Bruns said. “But I made some sloppy bogeys in places where I had no reason to do that, but considering how wet the course was, I was pretty happy with how I played.”
After finishing behind Zack Russell and A.J. Stouffer for district honors the past couple years, Bruns said it was nice to break through.
“I’ve been right behind them,” he said. “This year, it was nice to earn that.”
Not to be outdone, Western Albemarle’s Nathan Vance birdied four of his final six holes to finish in a tie for third with Louisa County’s Zane Moore with a score of 74.
Vance’s birdie on 18 gave WAHS a commanding 13-stroke lead and the Warriors cruised to the title.
“Nathan’s finish was awesome,” Maynard said. “Nathan’s one of the top junior players in the state, so anything he does doesn’t really surprise me.”
Zach Smith shot an 82 and Clay Bright added an 86 for Western Albemarle.
Tuesday’s victory by Western Albemarle tied the Warriors with Albemarle for the top regular season mark. The district tournament is the tiebreaker to determine the overall champion, and that went to Western.
“I think it was important to this team,” Maynard said. “They’ve heard me talk about some past successes that we’ve had for a few years now and they wanted to be a part of that. We’ve won a ton of district championships, but it’s been awhile, and this group wanted to add their mark.”