By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Ike Judy can start packing his bags for another trip to Wheeling next week.
The James Monroe senior is bound for the state high school golf tournament for the second straight year after firing the low round of the day at Monday’s Class AA, Region 3 tournament at the par-72 Grandview Country Club near Beaver.
His 3-under par 69 was the best among the 28 golfers from 10 southern West Virginia schools, cinching his berth in the states. T.J. Stacy of River View also qualified; his 83 was the second-best individual score among golfers not on the top two teams.
The top two teams were Westside, with a combined total of 241, and Wyoming East, just one shot back. Both schools therefore qualified as a group for state competition. James Monroe was in third place with a 247.
“It was actually a pretty strong field,” said Judy. “Wyoming East, and Westside, had several tough players, and PikeView. I wished we (James Monroe) had been able to go as a team. I thought we finished well, but sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you’d like.”
About his own performance, Judy said, “I knew that if I went in there and did what I knew how to do, I’d probably be all right. I’ve worked at the game long enough (that) I knew my nerves wouldn’t get to me, and I was right.”
The state tournament is next Tuesday and Wednesday at the Speidel Course on the grounds of Oglebay Park.
Since he competed in the state tournament last fall, Judy said, “Knowing the course, that’s always a plus.” Another advantage is “knowing pretty much most of the competition, and knowing how you have to play to stay up with them,” he said.
“I’m just going to try to go in and play to the best of my ability, and hopefully that’ll get me a state championship.”
He is aware of the talent that will gather next week seeking a Class AA title. He said he and Austin Spears of Roane County “have been neck-and-neck pretty much all year. We played together a lot this summer ... We’re pretty good friends.”
Judy has been in several other pressure situations in his golfing career. In July, he got the opportunity to play three holes with PGA Tour professional Billy Horschel just prior to The Greenbrier Classic golf tournament in White Sulphur Springs.
“To see other golfers at such a high level, to have a pro playing beside you, it was just undescribable,” Judy said.
That experience, and his years of tournaments and varsity events have left him with a distinct message. “It just really let me know, more than anything, to practice,” he said. “It won’t be handed to you. You have to work for what you want.”
He has been fortunate to play golf for the Mavericks with his twin brother Eli. “It’s really awesome,” Ike Judy said. “He peps me up and I pep him up, kind of like a team deal.”
“I would have loved to have gone to the state tournament with him, but ... we did all we could do.”
James Monroe golf coach Michael Hines has been a help, he said. “He’s definitely given everybody on the team, not just me, words of encouragement, and we’ve worked harder than ever. He stepped up and did all he could do to help us,” Judy said.
The strength of his game he said, is his wedge shots. “My wedges are pretty tight right now,” he said. Asked about any weakness in his game, he said, “I probably need to get my long irons straightened out. That might be a problem up there, but I have until Tuesday to work that out.”
He said he will leave Friday evening for the trip to Wheeling. Up until the state tourney starts, he said, he will be practicing “every day ... just trying to dial in what I already have now, and tweak it where I need it.”
• • •
Stacy, a senior at River View, will be going to the state golf tournament for the first time.
“This has probably been the top thing I can think of” in his golf career, he said by phone on Tuesday. “I’m really thankful, after four years of working hard, that it paid off — that I really get to go.”
He found out about the honor hours after leaving the Raleigh County golf course on Monday evening.
“When I got done, me and my dad were sitting there,” he said. “Most of top golfers had already finished. We were looking at the scores, and I didn’t think I was going to make it, so we actually left early. I got a call, about 9 o’clock. At first I didn’t think it was real.”
When he came to school Tuesday, word had already spread. His schoolmates “were very proud of me and congratulating me and wishing me luck,” he said.
He is already familiar with the long trip spanning the state from McDowell County to Wheeling. “Actually, I go up every year with my cousin (Jeff Johnson, former dean of students at River View) to watch the football playoffs,” he said.
He and golf coach Ray Bailey are now gathering information about what Stacy will face at the Speidel course.
“I talked to a couple of people and they said it’d be tough,” Stacy said. “I was looking at the scores (of last year’s tournament) and they were pretty high compared to what they normally shoot. ... I wanted to look at (the scores) and see how hard it was.”
In any case, he is going to treasure the trip, and being able to say he qualified for the states.
“I’m so thankful I can do it for River View, and my family,” he said.
He added, “I just want to have fun, and hopefully play good.”
— Contact Tom Bone at