Sevier County teammates head to state
Their futures decided, two of Region 1-AAA’s best golfers sat alone by the first tee at The Country Club in Morristown last week.
Spencer Cross and Ben Huskey, Sevier County teammates, were content to chat about their day. They laughed about miscues. It was funny now; both had qualified for the state tournament. They still had to play off for second and third place, but that was a mere formality among friends.
“They’ve been very close to each other all year, so it’s very appropriate,” said Smoky Bears coach Chad Owenby. “Luckily it was a playoff just for a medal, not for a qualifying spot. It’s very relaxed. They were actually probably too loose for the playoff. Neither one of them played their best.”
The duo can save that for today when they both tee off at WillowBrook Golf Club in Manchester during the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s AAA state championship. Seymour’s Katelyn Witucki is competing in the girls event.
It’s the first trip to state for both Huskey, a senior, and Cross, a freshman. Their friendship stretches beyond the limits of both boys’ memories. Their parents suggested they’ve been close since the day Cross was born.
It sure seems that way on the golf course. They were a close 1-2 during the regular season with Cross often chasing Huskey. It’s flip-flopped in the postseason with Cross winning the county tournament and the Inter Mountain Athletic Conference title and Huskey close behind. They were 2-3 at the district and region events.
It shouldn’t be surprising. The pair have played countless hours together, practicing nearly every day.
“We have a good time, but we still are focused,” Huskey said. “We get a lot done.”
The golfers have complementary skill sets. Huskey can mash the ball deep down the fairway while Cross has a superior short game. Put them together and they’d make a superhero of a high school golfer.
“That’s we thought,” Cross said. “That’s what we always say. On that last hole, if he would’ve had my line, his would’ve been better than my ball. We play quite a bit, just two-mans, and we’re undefeated.”
It’s not hard to see why. The two established themselves as the best golfers in Sevier County this fall, often just a couple strokes between them. Owenby said it’s all about the work they put in on the course every day.
“They love the game and they work at it,” Owenby said. “They’ve gotten better all year. You see they shot 75 today but it’s on a very difficult golf course and under a ton of pressure. Trying to get to the state tournament’s tough.”
The two were inseparable at the region tournament. After Huskey finished, he watched Cross finish his round. When the scores came in — and it was clear a playoff loomed — they practiced putting together. While the crowd assembled around the scoreboard, Cross and Huskey were on the other side of the clubhouse, waiting on the first tee.
“We help each other a lot,” Huskey said after the district tournament. “It’s a good rivalry. He pushes me and I push him. ... I know he’s going to shoot a good score, so I’ve got to shoot one, too.”