CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Catholic saved the day from being a complete misfire for Kanawha Valley teams at the state high school golf tournament.
The two-time defending Class A champion Irish held a nine-shot lead following Tuesday's opening round of the 36-hole event on the par-72 Robert Trent Jones course at the Oglebay Resort in Wheeling.
Led by senior Aaron Persily and sophomore Nick Casingal, the Irish posted a first-day total of 236, giving them a healthy lead over Madonna (245) and St. Marys (256).
In AAA, Wheeling Park (237) brings a seven-stroke lead over Cabell Midland and Shady Spring (244) into today's final round, while Roane County (228) holds a whopping 23-shot advantage over Ritchie County in AA.
Catholic junior Christian Casingal, the Class A medalist as a freshman in 2011 and the individual runner-up last year, shot an 81 Tuesday but remains just four shots off the pace set by Persily and Madonna's Michael Rogers, who each fashioned a 5-over 77.
"We're fortunate having those two guys at the top,'' Irish coach Bill Gillispie said during a telephone interview about Persily and Christian Casingal, the team's best golfers this season.
"They're just steady and confident and they play well here. They've really not ever had a big number here. Christian wasn't as good today as he normally is, but he's still only four off the lead.''
Persily, who placed fourth as a freshman, second as a sophomore and third last year, seeks his fourth straight all-state spot (which goes to the top eight in each class).
Gillispie said the effort of Nick Casingal - Christian's younger brother who's alone in third with a 78 - was an unexpected bonus on a day when just one golfer in the entire three-class field shot better than 76.
"It's his first state tournament,'' Gillispie said, "and he's the one who got us going. His dad [followed him around the course] and said he really, really played well. Our depth is going to help us.''
Irish freshman Cameron Blakely stood in a tie for eighth at 86.
That was about all of the good news for Kanawha Valley schools, however.