Co-Top Male Golfers Of The Year

Kellam’s Alex Lloyd and Trey Smith, who helped their squad to its first-ever state title last season, were named Gameday Magazine’s Co-Male Golfers of the Year. Photo by Jason Norman

Editor's note: Once in a while, sportswriters find themselves in a very awkward position. Trying to pick a Player of the Year award is rarely easy, because so many athletes give their all every year. And sometimes, certain players are so blasted close that the decision can't be made.

Fortunately, we have a simple solution to making such a choice: we don't. If we're at a point where more than one athlete deserves such credit, giving it to them is just the right thing to do. That's how the "Co-Player" honor came about - and reading on, you'll see a perfect example (or two) of why it works so well.

Strolling across the 13th hole at the Nansemond River Golf Club on Oct. 12, Kellam's Alex Lloyd noticed his teammate Trey Smith on the previous fairway. With the AAA state golf title within a few pars and birdies, the Knights' enthusiasm was as high as any squad ever to represent south Hampton Roads.

Feeling it, Lloyd pumped his fist at his colleague. Smith raised his open hand, then pointed it toward the ground.

At the time, Smith's gesture meant that he was five under par (fingers pointing downward indicates the golf negatives in Kellam link lingo). But as the tournament continued, the motion became something of a wave goodbye.
Goodbye to watching other teams finish just a bit farther ahead in the state title games; the Knights had been second two years before, and third last season. Goodbye to the 48 years that Kellam High had gone since its inception without seeing a male state title team in any sport (to be fair, the squad's only mostly male -- Elisa Trent was one of the top scorers all season).

And for Smith himself, goodbye to his career. He was one of only two seniors on the squad.

He and Lloyd had not only had the lowest match score in all but one of Kellam's wins during the season (the Knights went 13-0), but had finished one-two in both the Beach District and Eastern Region championships. Close to home for the state title games for the first time in his high school career (the state event is usually held in Richmond, or farther west), Smith had one last shot to be part of the Old Dominion's top squad.

The night before, the Knights had been holding on to a one-stroke lead over Deep Run, with Lloyd's 67 score tied with Chantilly's Ji Soo Park for the individual best finishing. Smith, who'd gone from three-over to two-under during the first 18 holes, sat his squad down for a quick pep talk.

"This was my last two days at Kellam High School golf," he said. "That was motivation to come back and stay strong. We knew we had a pretty strong team overall, but we still had to do the right things."

The next day, Lloyd led the way at the bottom of the scoreboard, knocking four more strokes off his score to drop below Park and everyone else, finishing up with another 67, at 10-under. Finishing up at the 18th hole, he sat down to wait for his teammates.

"I'd finished good," he said, "and I knew that Trey wasn't going to make any mistakes, and that no one else was going to make any mistakes. If another team beat us after Trey and I had played that well, they deserved to win."

Back on the links, Smith and his teammates tried to keep hold of the momentum.

"Once you get a par on that first hole, you're rolling," he said. "I knew after (hole) 13 that this could be our day, and it gave me even more motivation. It was kind of our own mini Ryder Cup. Every time we saw one of our teammates, we were fist-pumping, going on. It messed with the (our opponents), seeing us all pumped up. It put pressure on them."

He finished up with a 66, four strokes lower than the day before, the lowest overall individual score of the day, and good enough for eight under. Lloyd's 143 and Smith's 136 (each personal two-day bests) both broke the all-time state record of 138 (Park also broke it, scoring a 137).

The Knights kept coming in. Bryce Cope turned in a 150 and Kent Brewton a 157. In the end, Kellam had edged Run 577-585, and any other Hampton Roads school by at least 70 strokes. One more record had fallen; the Knights' score was seven below the one that Cox set in 2005.

Next season, Lloyd will be leading the squad for a repeat title, while Smith tries to repeat his success on a golf scholarship at James Madison University.

"I didn't want to ever forget those two days, and I won't," he said of taking home the state crown. "To say that we're the first male team in Kellam history to win a state title is special."