The outcome of the 2016 Northwest 1A Conference golf race seemed pre-ordained before anyone even teed off this spring.
Bishop McGuinness had not only won six consecutive NW1A titles, it had also won the last five 1A state championships in a row. The Villains were so dominant that they had broken a team score of 600 at the state finals four times in the last five seasons, a feat that had only been achieved one other time in the entire 18-year history of the 1A championship.
Someone forgot to tell the Mount Airy team that the Villains were unbeatable, though. The Granite Bears beat Bishop on its own home course to begin the season and then battled them right to the last nine holes of the season, winning the conference title by two strokes.
Right in the middle of that run to the title was senior Christopher Dorsett, one of the team’s top players for the last three seasons. While he still has some golf to play for Mount Airy, he already knows his competitive golf career will continue next year.
On Monday, Dorsett became the fourth local player to sign a letter of intent to play for Surry Community College next season. But the signing had been in the making for a long time.
“I’d been talking to Coach (Tom) Pendergraft since my junior year, and I was interested in their program,” he said. “I had a chance to play with some of the guys there this year and it seemed like a good fit.”
Dorsett joins East Surry’ Brock Jessup, North Surry’s Taylor Solomon and Surry Central’s Garrett Fletcher as the newest members of the Knights. As for Pendergraft, he thinks their decision to join his program has made the Surry team much stronger already.
“He and (Brock), I’ve realized for the last two or three years that they were really good players, and I knew they would be an asset to our team,” he said. “I know that Chris will step right into the ‘A’ team and start playing; he’s not going to be on the sideline. His capabilities are very strong and I am excited to have him join us.”
Dorsett has been playing golf for many years, and has spent the last four seasons as a member of Coach Mark Hiatt’s Bears squad. Through hard work and dedication, he emerged as one of the conference’s top players in his sophomore season.
“He worked so hard between his freshman and sophomore years,” said his father Jason Dorsett. “He put in the work, and the difference was just unbelievable from the end of his freshman season to the start of the next season.
“He wanted to play in college and he wanted to be the best golfer he could be, and he’s earned this.”
Meanwhile, the program as a whole continued to improve, and in 2016, Mount Airy was ready to challenge mighty Bishop McGuinness for NW1A supremacy.
The Bears opened the season by stunning the Villains, but a team doesn’t get to be five-time state champs by not responding to a challenge. Mount Airy never led the conference race by more than eight strokes at any point in the season. The lead was only two when the teams squared off for the last time on April 25 at Cross Creek.
Bishop outshot the Bears by four strokes through the halfway point of the meet, and led the conference title race on the course for the first time all year. Hiatt knew it, but his players didn’t. He chose not to put added pressure on them and kept this information to himself.
His players kept playing their game and it was good enough. Mount Airy turned the tables on the Villains and had a four-shot edge of their own on the back nine. Final score: Mount Airy 1,269…Bishop McGuinness 1,271.
“I knew they had taken the lead after the front nine, but I didn’t tell them,” he said. “Bishop was up by two, but then we outshot them by four strokes on the back nine and won by two.”
Although Dorsett won several medalist honors during his career at MAHS, he said that winning the team title over Bishop was the highlight of his career to this point.
“Winning the conference this year, as a team, was the highlight for me,” he said.
Christopher hopes that his golf career will continue even beyond Surry.
“I knew I wanted to play in college a long time ago, and I worked hard the last four years at improving my game. Coach Hiatt helped me a lot,” he said. “I’d like to go on and play two more years after I graduate from Surry, and hopefully I’ll go there, do well for two years and then have that chance.”
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.