2011 RMHS boys golf team (Contributed photo - click on picture to enlarge)
When Chris Lee left Rocky Mount to become the head football coach at Louisburg High School in the winter of 2009, he not only left a void on the football coaching squad, but his absence left the school without a boys golf coach, too.
In stepped Ken Cox, retired Tarboro athletic director and father of Gryphon head baseball coach Kent Cox, as head coach.
In three seasons, the Gryphons have gone from just being competitive to qualifying for the NCHSAA state tournament for the first time ever in the program's history.
Rocky Mount pulled off the feat via its third place finish at the NCHSAA 3-A East Regionals held Monday at Reedy Creek Golf Course outside Four Oaks. The Gryphons shot a combined 333 at the par 72 course. Big East Conference champion Wilson Fike claimed its eight regional title in nine years by firing a 308 - led by medalist Bailey Rose with a 2-under par 70.
West Carteret was second with a 316. Big East member Southern Nash placed fifth with a 342.
Rocky Mount, which finished a surprising second in the Big East regular season race, got a 79 from Dylan Matthews (eighth place), an 82 from James Martin, and 86's from Gardner Noble and Tyler Howard. Dean Leonard (90) and Clark Covolo (104) round out the team roster. The team's top four scores count toward the team total.
Rocky Mount, along with 11 other teams and several individual players from across the state, will now decend onto Pinehurst and Foxfire Golf and Country Club (par 72, 6,742 yds.) for a practice round Sunday then two rounds of championship tournament play Monday and Tuesday.