The Gatesville and Salado boys golf teams are both vying for the same title this week — state champion.
The Hornets and the Eagles tee off this morning at Plum Creek Golf Club in Kyle in the Class 4A state tournament.
An appearance at the state tourney isn’t new for Gatesville.
“We’ve been fortunate to be here before,” said head coach Guy Dean.
The Hornets are making consecutive state appearances, their ninth since 2007, but the three who played at state last year bring only a slight advantage.
“It’s a different golf course,” Dean said. “But they’ve played under the conditions that come with state.”
Yet, a number of the players on the Hornets team have played the course before and are somewhat familiar with the layout.
Some golfers even made a trip to Plum Creek over spring break in order to play and practice.
“You can’t plan too far ahead,” Dean said. “But you have to have some preparation in case you do make it.”
Knowing that the greens at Plum Creek are unlike the courses they play closer to home, Braden Luensmann, Evan Washburn, Cameron Hudson, Caleb Wasburn and Cooper Smith were all out practicing and getting in as many extra putts as they could Sunday afternoon.
“Of course the more you play a course the more familiar you are with it,” Dean said. “People who live close may have had more access than us since you can play it as many times as you want prior to qualifying.”
While the ultimate goal is to take the title, Dean is optimistic about the golf program’s future regardless of the outcome this week.
“We have four sophomores playing and one senior,” Dean said. “Whatever we do, we’ll take home what experience we can gain.”
Salado also made the trip down to Kyle on Sunday afternoon, despite being already familiar with the course.
The Eagles played 54 holes of golf at Plum Creek during their regular season schedule and again when they competed in the Hays Consolidated tournament in the fall.
“Our season has been what we expected it to be,” said head coach Scott Ringo. “We knew we had a shot to compete and win district and ended up second.”
The Eagles also finished second at regionals.
James Perry Logan Rickey, Derek Mullinix, Caleb Altum and Cayden Meyer are making their first appearance as a group in the state tournament.
“The last group to play state was three years ago,” Ringo said.
Salado is well prepared for the state appearance having played in tournaments against Class 5A and 6A schools and going up against teams like Austin Westlake and Lake Travis.
The Eagles enter the state tournament with two juniors and three sophomores, and only one member of the team has extensive tournament experience.
“We’re just going to focus on being relaxed and playing (our) normal game,” Ringo said. “And try to treat it no different, other than the amount of people watching.
“We’re definitely an underdog down here, so to even get on the medal stand we have to hit above and beyond what we’ve hit this year, but there’s no pressure on us at all other than to go out and play our game.”
In Georgetown, Belton’s Dallas Hankamer will tee off at 9 a.m. in the Class 6A state tournament at Legacy Hills Golf Club.
Hankamer earned his spot in the field by winning the Region II tournament.
STATE GOLF TOURNAMENTS
- 8 a.m. — Class 4A boys, at Plum Creek Golf Course, Kyle
- 8 a.m. — Class 6A boys, at Legacy Hills Golf Club, Georgetown