By Jason Chlapek
Killeen Daily Herald
AUSTIN – There was an obvious celebratory mood surrounding the Salado golf program on Tuesday.
Tom Baine wept tears of joy on two separate occasions, Jared Hahn, C.J. Little and Tyler Pines joined in a group hug and Ryan O'Rear did what he did the previous two seasons – won the individual Class 2A boys state championship.
But all of this celebration did not revolve around O'Rear's individual efforts, it revolved around what the Eagles did as a team – claim their second state crown in as many years. Salado, fresh off of a 299 opening-round score, shot 307 on Tuesday to claim the 2A team state championship with a two-day score of 606 at the Roy Kizer Golf Course in Austin.
"It doesn't get any better than this," O'Rear said. "It was great to win the individual title, but it's even better to win the team title with my teammates."
This same group of five also claimed the 2008 team championship, but Pines was quick to point out that this one was special.
"This one feels better because it's our senior year and we did so in record fashion," Pines said. "We all came together this year and we wanted to do this for coach (Bobby) Peschel as well. We also did it with everyone out to get us. We were the defending state champs and we defended the state championship."
Salado came into Tuesday's final round leading second-place Sonora by 11 strokes, 299-310. And the Eagles made sure the Broncos got no closer as Salado beat Sonora by 27 strokes, 606-633.
"Going into (Tuesday), we knew Sonora was our toughest competiton so we did our best to beat the Sonora guy with whom were were matched against," Little said. "And we made sure they never gained on us. We played Salado golf and it paid off."
Hahn said the record-breaking first day gave the Eagles the edge they needed. Prior to Monday's round, this group of five seniors never shot lower than 300.
"Breaking 300 gave us the momentum and we never let up," Hahn said as he was signing a shirt for one of the many Salado fans on hand. "Maybe the shirt-signing thing can be a new tradition for Salado golf."
A year ago, Salado came from behind to shock two-time defending state champion Edgewood. But this year the Eagles wanted to make sure no one knocked them off.
"Last year we came from behind and this year we dominated," Baine said as he hugged the state championship trophy as if it were a teddy bear. "To win state twice with four guys who are like brothers to me and a man like coach Peschel who is like a second dad is amazing. We played for each other and we played for coach Peschel. This is an awesome feeling and I couldn't ask for more."
The Salado girls team also claimed a medal as the Lady Eagles finished third with a final score of 696. They finished third to three-time state champion Wall (643) and runner-up Callisburg (665).
Salado went into Tuesday's action sitting in fourth place, seven strokes behind Kermit, 652-659.
"Our goal was to improve from Monday's round and to finish third," Rachel Van Hoozer said. "We knew we weren't going to catch up with Wall or Callisburg, but we felt that we could catch Kermit."
While the Salado boys will have a completely different team in 2010 because of graduation, the Lady Eagles return everyone. Van Hoozer is a junior, Leah Ray is a freshman and Brennan Boydstun, Hadley Joiner and Taylor O'Rear are sophomores.
"It was a big accomplishment to finish third," Taylor O'Rear said. "But we have a feeling that we'll be in the running for the championship next year."
O'Rear could be right as Wall and Callisburg both had senior-only teams. Of course, Boydstun was quick to point out one thing.
"We might be the favorites next year, but we still have to earn it," Boydstun said. "We all have to stick with it and play our best."
Contact Jason Chlapek at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7565.