Brice Garnett

Will Ava Bankston and Carter Stroup repeat as Schooldays champions?


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Lipscomb Academy senior Ava Bankston will try to win the Tennessean/Metro Parks Schooldays Golf Tournament for the second consecutive year Wednesday

Mike Organ, Nashville Tennessean

Ava Bankston and Carter Stroup are in position to repeat as Tennessean/Metro Parks Schooldays Golf Tournament champions.

There is, however, still work to be done for Bankston, the 2021 girls champion from Lipscomb Academy and Stroup, the boys champion from Greenbrier heading into Wednesday’s final day at McCabe Golf Course.

Bankston, 17, advanced to the championship in dominating fashion Tuesday by winning two rounds of match play. She knocked off Morgan Winfree 8 and 7 in the quarterfinals and Mattie Goad 7 and 6 in the semifinals.

The easy wins for Bankston, who defeated Alex Crews 3 and 2 for the championship in 2021, proved something she already knew. 

“I obviously feel like I’ve improved a bit versus last year,” Bankston said. “My wedges have gotten a lot better and that’s kind of the case for McCabe. You really need to dial in on those wedges.”

Bankston hopes to become the ninth girl to win more than one Schooldays title but will be challenged by a first-year player — 12-year-old Addisyn Newman — who made a splash Tuesday knocking out Crews, the 16-year-old stroke play medalist, with a 3 and 2 win in the semifinals.

 “I wasn’t intimidated at all because age doesn’t matter to me; I play how I play and she plays how she plays,” said Newman, who is from Knoxville. “Probably my chipping was the best part of my game and I came in expecting that because I’ve been chipping well lately.”

HE’S BACK: Carter Stroup is only the third 14-year-old to win the Schooldays Golf Tournament

THE MEDALISTS: Alex Crews, Laird Williams medal in the Tennessean/Metro Parks Schooldays Golf Tournament

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Newman took a four-hole lead on the front nine after making three birdies.

“I came in with plenty of confidence and that just grew after the front nine,” she said. “Then my focus on the back nine was to just stay straight par and focus on each hole.”

Stroup, 15, who has the chance to become only the second four-time winner, has a little more work to do since the boys will play their semifinal round Wednesday morning and the final after that.

The only four-time winner was Richard Eller (1961-64). Stroup also can become the first back-to-back winner since Kevin Lee (2012-13).

Stroup struggled in the qualifying round shooting a 79, which placed him 12th in the first round pairings. He was better in match play claiming a 3 and 1 win over Preston Hall in the first round and 3 and 2 win over Canon Wise in the quarterfinals.

“I didn’t play bad in the qualifying round, I just made a few bad decisions that I shouldn’t have,” Stroup said. “After the round I went back to the drawing board, looked at what I did last year and one of the things I did was I didn’t hit driver very much. So today I hit driver as little as possible and that helped me keep it in the fairway ultimately and shoot lower.”

Stroup said he realized distance wasn’t as important as accuracy, which is something he focused on last year when he beat Ace Hogg 1-up in the championship.

“The course itself is so short already just by hitting it out there 220 or 240 yards it still leaves me a wedge in on most holes and I’d rather be in the fairway than in the trees,” Stroup said.

Stroup will face Lane Walton from Old Hickory in the semifinals. Walton beat stroke play medalist Laird Williams from Page 1-up in the quarterfinals.

Stroup and Walton first played against each other three years ago on the Sneds Tour and have faced each other several times since then.

“It will be a good match,” Stroup said.

Keith McArthur got a big lead on the front nine then had to hold off Gabe Webb 3 and 2 in the first round and then beat Connor Roberts 3 and 2 in the quarterfinals.

McArthur, the 2022 12-14 champion, will play Cooper Gettler in the other semifinal.

Jonas Reynolds faces Jake Meador in the 12-13 boys championship.

 Girls 

Quarterfinals (match play)

Alex Crews d. Gracie Hick 3-2

Addisyn Newman d. Lyra Whitman 6-4

Ava Bankston d. Morgan Winfree 8-7

Mattie Goad d. Poppy Pewitt 3-2

Semifinals

Newman d. Crews 3-2

Bankston d. Goad 7-6

Boys

First round 

Laird Williams d. Barry Yazdian 10-8

Canon Wise d. Colton Parrish 8-7

Connor Roberts d. Noah Spigel 7-6

Lane Walton d. Eli Mercer 4-3

Carter Stroup d. Preston Hall 3-1

Cooper Gettler d. Benjamin Pewitt 5-4

Keith McArthur d. Gabe Webb 3-2

Jay Coleman d. Tracin Parker 2-up

Quarterfinals

Walton d. Williams 1-up

McArthur d. Roberts 2-1

Stroup d. Wise 3-2

Gettler d. Colman 1-up

Semifinals

Wednesday

7:30 a.m. – Walton vs. Stroup

7:40 – McArthur vs. Gettler

Jonas Reynolds d. Knox Steele 9-8

Jake Meador d. Hampton Parker 3-2

8:30 a.m. – Reynolds v. Meador

Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter. 

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