Wood’s Repasky’s improved play has him headed to state tourney

Posted: October 4, 2012

A strong second half to the season has helped take roughly five strokes off Roger Repasky’s average round and a more composed mental approach has allowed him to not only win the first tournament of his high school career, but also become the only area qualifier for the two-day Group AA state golf tournament next week at Lakeview Golf Course in Penn Laird. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)
Described by James Wood golf coach Al Smith as having an “energetic” personality, sophomore Roger Repasky has learned to keep an even keel on the golf course. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — James Wood sophomore Roger Repasky took a glance at the scoreboard underneath the pavilion at Rock Harbor Golf Course at the Northwestern District tournament on Sept. 24, and couldn’t help but make his thoughts audible.

“I’ve been through enough playoffs,” said Repasky to no one in particular, realizing he was looking at more golf as a result of carding the same score of 80 as teammate Will Holmes.

Repasky’s mild displeasure was understandable, given the intense nature of a golf playoff. But maybe if he hadn’t done so well in a playoff just four days earlier, he might not have gone on to be the only golfer in the Northwestern District tournament to qualify for the Group AA state tournament, which will take place Monday and Tuesday at Lakeview Golf Course in Penn Laird.

On Sept. 19, Repasky needed four playoff holes on the Red Nine at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club to finally separate himself from Brentsville’s Lance Keiser after they had each shot a 77 in regulation, and he did so by going par, par, birdie, par at the nine-team Skyline Invitational.

“That was the biggest moment of the year for me, because I had never won a high school tournament before,” Repasky said. “It gave me a lot of confidence to win a tournament like that.”

And that showed up when he shot a career-best 74 at the same course less than two weeks later at the Region II tournament to place sixth overall and second among non-team qualifiers to qualify for states.

For James Wood coach Al Smith, watching Repasky qualify really wasn’t a surprise.

Over the last four weeks, Smith said Repasky has truly been a different golfer from the one he watched the first four weeks. Smith said a big part of that comes from an improved mental approach — without it, Repasky might not have been able to emerge in a four-hole playoff, much less qualify for states.

“He was one of those guys that you could tell how he was playing just by the way he was acting,” said Smith, who describes Repasky’s personality as “energetic” overall. “If he was playing well, he’d have a hop in his step, and if he wasn’t, his expression showed that.

“But I told him that if I can drive up in a golf cart and tell how he’s playing just by looking at him, that’s not a good thing. I told him he needed to keep his composure and stay positive.”

Smith said he wasn’t telling Repasky anything that his parents, Ronald and Maureen, weren’t already telling him.

But something clicked, and Smith said Repasky’s improved mental game and accuracy has probably resulted in him taking five strokes off his average from August to September. Repasky can drive the ball 280-290 yards, but Smith said he is now keeping more of his tee shots in the fairway and approach shots on the greens.

Repasky said his family has always had a huge influence on his golf game from the time he started playing at age 4. Wanting to be like his father — who Repasky said took up the game at around age 30 — and older brother Russell — a senior on the Colonel golf team — made him want to play, and his grandfather George Repasky is a go-to source for improving his golf game, particularly his approach shots.

“They’ve always supported me and have helped me out in a lot of situations,” Repasky said.

Despite growing up in a golf family, Repasky — whose family has a membership at Winchester Country Club — said it wasn’t until eighth grade when he started getting serious about the game and consistently playing about three times a week.

By the time he got to high school, he was clearly ready. He tied for 12th at the Northwestern District tournament in 2011 and was the only Northwestern District freshman to qualify for the Region II tournament.

“The year was better than I thought it would be,” Repasky said. “But after making regionals as a freshman, I was determined to make states as a sophomore.”

In August, Repasky established himself as one of the area’s better golfers, placing third in the first district mini on Aug. 7 at Rock Harbor with an 84, and tying for second with an 82 at the third district mini at SVGC on Aug. 20.

But it wasn’t until Sept. 19 at the Skyline Invitational that Repasky took his game to another level by closing the deal in the playoff.

Repasky finally won it on the fourth playoff hole — the 301-yard par-4 on the Red Nine. Repasky got on the green in two before two-putting, while Keisler had to scramble after hitting his tee shot near a tree and bogeyed.

Repasky only found out later the predicament that Keisler put himself in with his tee shot, which is another sign of his mental growth. He was more concerned about what he needed to do to succeed rather than with Keisler.

“You can’t be concerned with what your playing partners are doing,” Smith said. “You’ve got to focus on your own game. If somebody takes out a driver on a hole and you know that’s not the right shot for you, you shouldn’t feel as if you need to take out your driver too.”

Repasky followed that up by finishing in a three-way tie for first at the district tournament Sept. 24 (he lost to teammate Thomas Papastavrou after bogeying the first playoff hole, but took second over Holmes by parring the second) to set the stage for his Region II performance on Sept. 27.

Smith set target scores for his players and he wanted Repasky to shoot three shots better than he did at the Skyline Invitational. With “four or five” birdies, Repasky did just that, and he closed in style by birdying the last two holes, the Red 8 (347 yards, par-4) and 9 (447 yards, par-5). He sank a 15-20-foot birdie putt on the eighth, then put his approach shot on the green to set up a 10-foot eagle putt on the ninth, settling for birdie after it lipped out.

Had he parred those two holes, he would have been forced into a playoff to determine whether he would go to states.

“I had no idea what I had shot after my round was over,” Repasky said. “Once the scores were coming in, I began to realize I had a shot [at qualifying]. It means a lot, because this was my goal.”

No matter how Repasky fares at Lakeview, Smith said it should be a good experience. And with the way Repasky’s playing of late, he figures there’s no reason why he can’t play well.

“He’s going to get a chance to see how the best players in the state go about playing the game, and that’s only going to help him for next year,” Smith said. “But his confidence level is high, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he does well there.”

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at  rniedzwiecki@winchesterstar.comFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1