After two days of solid performances, a cadre of Decatur athletes earned what they’ve been working toward all year: a trip to the state golf tournament.
The blend of four experienced seniors and one freshman prodigy proved potent enough for the team to capture second at the Regional II Tournament Tuesday.
Their position at the end of the two-day Region II tournament at Tanglewood Resort in Pottsboro earned the boys a spot in the UIL 3A state tournament May 2-3 in Austin.
“The team really came together and practiced hard together to achieve the goal we set at the beginning of the year, to make it to state and eventually win,” Dylan Erwin said. “We had some rough times at the beginning of the year. But when we worked through it and kept working on our game I thought we’d make it.”
The team shot 313 Monday and 317 Tuesday. At the end of the first round they led Argyle by two strokes. Despite two consistent days by Decatur, Argyle turned in a punishing second day total of 299, finishing with a 16-stroke lead.
Third place went to Spring Hill with a two-day total of 639.
Freshman Drew Jones, already a University of Texas commit, was the top scorer for the Decatur team with 154 strokes-75 on day one and 79 the second.
“We’ve always wanted to do this,” Jones said of qualifying for state. “This was our main goal. Now that we’ve done it we feel pretty accomplished, and hopefully we’ll do well in state if not win it.”
Despite his youth he’s been able to lean on the seniors for advice.
“With these guys I knew we could do it,” he said. “They tell me what to expect. And their leadership on this team has meant a lot.”
Coach Kyle Story echoed the sentiment.
“The seniors have done a great job stepping up and being leaders on the team,” Story said. “They’ve kept everybody practicing. And Drew stepped in there as a freshman and he hasn’t been intimidated. He can shoot as good as anyone on any given day. They all have good chemistry.”
He was impressed with how the team handled the high winds, which gusted at 20 miles per hour most of the time, and fast greens on the course.
“I thought they played very smart and in most cases kept the ball in play,” Story said. “For most holes we put the ball where we needed to to eliminate big numbers.
“They came out here and played really well both days. They all shot well and I’m really proud of that. And now they get a chance to go to state.”
Jansen Alker was the teams second best scorer, turning in cards of 79 and 77. Dylan Rottner was next with a two-day total of 159. Eric Gage finished with 161 strokes and Erwin finished with 171.
All players agree increased focus and preparation propelled them to state.
“I’ve been putting a lot more, practicing every day and just hitting better drives and keeping my head in it through 18 holes,” Alker said.
“It feels good,” Gage added. “We’ve improved a lot. We’ve been practicing every day. Hitting balls on the range or putting balls just an hour a day helps so much.
“One of the main things is staying focused throughout your round. If you do that you’ll be successful.”
Despite success at the regional tournament, players acknowledge there’s work to be done to win at state.
“It feels good finally getting to go to Austin and compete for the big title,” Rottner said.
But the players won’t be satisfied until they win it all.
“We played alright, but we can definitely all do better,” Rottner said. We can win state if we all play like we can play.”
“The team played really good. We just have some problems we have to work out before we go to state,” Erwin said. “That’s our short game and course management.”
“Having four seniors, there is a lot of experience,” Gage said. “And Drew has come on as a freshman, clutching up and playing lights out golf. We’re taking it more serious this year. We’ve got a chance … Darts is back for the final lap.”