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On to the big show

Today is a big day for Halifax County High School senior Joey Gasperini.

Gasperini will represent Halifax County High School today when he tees off for the start of the two-day Virginia High School State Division 5 Golf Tournament at Richmond’s Meadowbrook Country Club.

This will be the final time Gasperini will have the opportunity to represent the school and the school’s golf team in competition. When the Comets golf team fell two shots shy of making the cut in the recent 5A North Region Tournament, Gasperini was the only Comets player to qualify for the state tournament as an individual, grabbing the final individual berth from the 5A North Region.

Team-wise, the 5A North Region Tournament ended what had been a stellar season for the Comets golf team, which finished third in the Piedmont District behind Franklin County High School and Tunstall High School and went on to win the Division 5 Conference 16 Championship Tournament.

Today, Gasperini, who will be playing in his first state tournament, gets his last shot at competing for the Comets.

“I’m really excited,” Gasperini said of the state tournament.

“It’s a huge experience. This is the all-time top. I’m excited to represent Halifax County High School. At the same time, I’m really sad the rest of the team can’t join me in this tournament. I really wish they could be there. I especially wish Josh Irby and my brother, Peter, could also be able to represent Halifax County.”

Gasperini has had the better part of two weeks to get ready for today’s state tournament. For the Comets senior, it has been pretty much business as usual.

“I’ve just been sticking to the same game plan, putting here, chipping there, basically working the same thing I’ve been working on all along,” he noted.

“I know I definitely have to stay focused 100 percent of the time. I can’t slack at all. I know I’ve got to have 100 percent focus on every shot, on every aspect of the game.”

Gasperini was scheduled to play a practice round at Meadowbrook Country Club yesterday. And, he will have Comets Head Coach David Graham with him every step of the way through the two days of state tournament play.

“I’ve never played the course before,” Gasperini said late last week, “but Coach Graham has played the course and he has told me a lot about it. I’m sure that will help me a lot.

“He knows so much about the game,” added Gasperini.

“He can help me plan each shot and think each hole through.”

As far as goals are concerned, Gasperini says he would like to finish in the top 10. 

“That would be pretty big to finish in the top 10 in the state,” he remarked.

“I’m not going to worry about anybody else. I’m just going to play my game and do the best I can.”

Gasperini says the fact he will be playing against good competitive golfers will help him.

“The better the people are that I play with, the better I tend to play,” he explained.

“If I’m playing with people that are experienced and who play a lot, then I tend to feed off of that and make good shots. The more focused I am, the more confident I am in my shots. If I’m focused and confident, I will hit good golf shots. 

“It’s a much more intense atmosphere, and I think I’ll be focused more and be more at 100 percent of my game,” he added.

Gasperini said his game started to come around in the last half of the season.

“My season started really rough,” he remarked.

“I was really nervous because it’s my senior year and I wanted to do well all year. I just wasn’t ready to start playing tournaments yet (when the season started). I didn’t play in that many tournaments over the summer, so I really didn’t have that experience going in.

“But, I worked on my swing and focused on shots and stepped it up and came through at the end of the season,” continued Gasperini.

“Near the end (of the season) it was do-or-die. You couldn’t slip up even once. Being a senior, I had a lot of experience and I think I played my part.”