Just a sophomore at Elliott County, Ryan Gillum has played on the high school golf team for as long as he can remember.
His father, Steve, started the program in 2003 and through the years Ryan has grown in stature on the golf course as well as size.
Practically inseparable, father and son were selected Coach and Player of the Year on the 2013 Boys All-Area Golf Team in voting by coaches.
Elliott County, led by the play of Ryan and All-Area teammate Hunter Holbrook, finished runner-up in the All “A” Classic State Tournament and tied for third in Region 12.
“It’s been a great year,” Steve Gillum said. “We had some fun and been able to compete. What I like is you get to know these terrific kids from other schools. They play against each other and become friends. They just become part of a golfing family.”
Elliott County won the West Carter Invitational at Hidden Cove as part of the team’s successful season. Even so, Steve Gillum didn’t expect to be chosen All-Area Coach of the Year.
“I appreciate this honor they’ve given me,” he said. “We have a lot of great coaches in this region. I’ve worked with a lot of them for years. Roger Gillum (Greenup County) and Larry Slone (Rowan County) have always been helpful.”
Ryan Gillum started to come into his own as a golfer this year. After a strong summer, he placed 12th on the high school All-State points list with 49.83, narrowly missing a spot on the team.
“I played pretty solid all year,” Gillum said. “To be Player of the Year is a huge accomplishment. There’s a lot of talented players in the area. It’s a huge honor.”
Gillum shot 65 in winning the Paintsville Invitational. He won a playoff for medalist honors in West Carter’s tournament and shot 75 at the regional tournament to get second place behind Boyd County’s Drew Burke (72).
Gillum went on to made the cut at the State Tournament and tied for 51st at Bowling Green Country Club.
A big confidence builder for Gillum came in June when he shot 67-72-74—213 at Bellefonte Country Club to tie for eighth in the prestigious Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior. The field included more than 100 boys from about two dozen states.
“That helped my confidence, competing against those guys from all over the nation,” said Gillum, who grew up learning from talented older teammates Evan and Ethan Faulkner, and Jared Flanery.
During the high school season, Gillum and Holbrook provided Elliott County with a strong one-two combination.
“It definitely helps having Hunter as the No. 2,” Gillum said. “If I shoot a bad number, I know he can shoot a good number and we can have a good team score.”
Holbrook won Greenup County’s invitational at Hidden Cove in a four-way playoff.
“As a team, we were close in several tournaments,” Ryan said. “I think we worked hard and improved a lot from last year. Four of our top five will be back, so we want to try to keep getting better.”
Burke, a junior, totaled 30.08 points on the All-State points list and was second in the All-Area Player of the Year voting.
Region runner-up Ashland landed four players on the All-Area squad — Evan Cox, Thomas Hall, Logan Jones and Tate Justus. All four shot between 78 and 80 at regionals as the Tomcats finished three shots behind Montgomery County. Ashland missed the cut at state, although Jones advanced to the second day and tied for 35th individually.
“Tate and Logan stepped up, really all year,” said Cox, a senior and last year’s All-Area Player of the Year. “Overall, the season was not as good as we all wanted. We were expecting a lot more, I was expecting more of myself. All in all, we made it back to state and that was one of our goals.”
Ashland also made some solid showings during the season under the guidance of new coach Mitch Hall.
“He really put in a lot of time and effort, helping us and taking us to all the tournaments,” said Cox, a senior. “Coach stressed that every shot counts. We all took that to heart. It was evident at the regional tournament.”
Russell, which shared third place at regionals, is represented by Bobby Thomas and Johnny McGuire. Thomas and Elliott County’s Holbrook were part of a three-way playoff for the last qualifying spot for the State Tournament.
Rowan County’s Michael Taylor accumulated 18.33 points on the state list, just ahead of Holbrook.
Other All-Area selections included Austin Blevins of Greenup County and Brett Ruckel of Lewis County.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2671.