Adam Young’s award-winning success as a golfer at Boyd County High School and Georgetown College didn’t match the thrill he experienced Saturday.
The Young-coached West Jessamine boys’ team made a stirring comeback to win the Leachman/KHSAA State Golf Tournament at Bowling Green Country Club.
Down by 12 strokes after day one, the Colts shot par — 288 — in the final round to overtake St. Xavier and snatch their first state title.
Young, 30, called it his most memorable sports achievement. He earned All-State honors in high school and became an All-Mid South Conference selection on the college level.
“I’ve had some good coaches through the years that told me the feeling was a lot better as a coach,” Young said. “Now I believe it.”
West Jessamine doesn’t lack for talent. Last year, Young’s first as head coach, the Colts were a strong contender for the title but wound up fourth.
“We won like seven straight invitationals last season, but kind of choked up at the State Tournament,” he said. “Winning it has been our goal all year.”
West Jessamine had its work cut out after the first round, but Young challenged his players to take a match-play approach into their pairings with perennial power St. X — the only team to beat the Colts at full strength this season. In the end, West Jessamine came out on top by two shots.
“I was in shock, even though I knew we were capable of pulling it off,” the coach said. “For our kids to believe in each other and respond like that, it was unbelievable. We were told it was the best comeback in State Tournament history. ”
The Colts played the last hole at 4-under par.
Young credited Travis Rose, the only senior in the group, for helping turn the tide.
“On No. 6, He made about a 15-footer for birdie and let out with a huge yell and fist pump,” Young said.
Rose, who plays in the No. 2 spot for the Colts, plans to sign with to Eastern Kentucky. Junior Fred Allen Meyer leads West Jessamine’s lineup and has already committed to the University of Kentucky. Last year’s state runner-up won medalist honors Saturday on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff against Paducah St. Mary senior Joey Mayo.
“The most telling thing about Fred Allen, on the 18th hole in the final round, he laid up for the good of our team and still ended up with a birdie,” Young said. “He was more excited about the team winning. For him to get both was special.”
Ashland finished 12th in the team standings.
Young, who works in the insurance business for State Farm, first became acquainted with some of West Jessamine’s players at Champion Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, where he was a member.
“I met their parents and talked to them about maybe helping coach,” he said.
Young was surprised to find out West Jessamine golf already had a Boyd County connection. Jody Hamilton coached the Colts golfers as well as guiding one of the state’s top baseball programs.
“I had no idea,” Young said. “I played baseball for Jody growing up. He’s wonderful at coaching and mentoring. He just knows kids so well.”
Young spent one year assisting Hamilton before taking over the golf program.
A 2000 Boyd County grad, Young also started on two regional basketball champion teams for the Lions. He likened the pure excitement of Saturday’s accomplishment to what he felt after Tyler Zornes launched a bomb to beat Ashland in the regional finals.
West Jessamine’s golf team returned home to a police escort and caravan ride through downtown Nicholasville, where Russ Meyer — Fred Allen’s father — is mayor.
“The school is on fall break this week,” Young said Monday afternoon. “Next week, I’m sure there will be a celebration.”
Adam’s parents, Jeff and Mary Young, live in Catlettsburg.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2671.