AUSTIN — Three West Texas teams celebrated championships in their respective divisions at the UIL Girls State Golf Championships on Tuesday.
The Wall Lady Hawks defended their 3A title and junior Shay West won a three-player playoff to win the medalist title.
Mason won the 2A crown for the first time in school history and Robert Lee pulled off a three-peat in 1A.
Veribest and Garden City finished second and third, respectively, at the 1A tourney.
Wall shot 312-319–631 at Jimmy Clay Golf Course and the Lady Hawks set a new state record for the best score ever by a 3A team.
“It was just exciting to watch them go out there and play,” Wall coach Rob Londerholm said. “Today, we had a pretty comfortable lead going in, but I felt like they had other goals in mind like setting the 3A state record for the lowest (scores). Winning the team championship was awesome and the record was really awesome.”
West carded scores of 71-76–147 and won the playoff on the first hole.
“It was really neat to see the girls out there whenever Shay hit the ball about five feet from the pin and made a birdie to win the tournamment,” the Lady Hawks coach said. “That was kind of the icing on the cake for us and it made it a good trifecta on the week for us.”
Lady Hawks senior Gracie McMillan (80-77–157) tied for fifth and fellow senior Sam Lehr (78-82–160) placed seventh.
Wall’s third senior, Corbyn Herring, had turned in her best scores of the season (83-84–167) to finish 11th.
Lady Hawks sophomore Emily Green (94-92–186) had a good day as well on Day 2, shaving a couple strokes off Monday’s performance.
West talked about what it was like coping with the pressure of being in a playoff to determine the individual champion.
“Honestly, I was scared to death,” West said. “I finished No. 18 and I have no idea where I am. I’m already freaking out because I don’t know where I am (in the standings). I asked Londerholm, I said, ‘OK, where am I?’ He told me I was in a playoff and I started panicking. I had anxiety and I was breathing heavily.
“I said a lot of prayers. I knew I was going to have to go back out there. They don’t do a scorecard playoffs, which I’m actually fine with. I was chosen to go first and I just hit my driver right down the middle and I hit it on the green. I made the putt for a birdie and the playoff was over because the other girls putted for par.”
West was even happier about how the Lady Hawks performed as a team.
Lehr had mixed emotions about her final high school tourney.
“It’s a little bit bittersweet, you know,” said Lehr, who will be playing collegiately at Oklahoma Baptist University next season. “It’s just really exciting and I’m looking forward to the next chapter and it’s also sad to close another one.”
Watching her teammate win the individual title is a memory that Lehr will never forget.
That was probably one of the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed,” Lehr said. “Shay and I have been friends forever. We pushed each other to be the best and she definitely pushed me really hard.”
The Lady Hawks’ three seniors couldn’t have written a better final chapter for their careers.
“I feel like I had a really great time out there, knowing it was my last tournament,” said McMillan, who will be playing for Mary-Hardin Baylor next year. “Knowing it was my last tournament, I really tried to go out there and be confident in all of my shots and try not to get upset over a bad shot.
“I think that really helped me stay focused in my game today and be able to shoot a good round.”
The 2A tourney was held at Lions Municipal Golf Course, where Mason shot 360-372–732 for a 22-stroke victory against district rival Goldthwaite.
Cowgirls sophomore Avery Burns (79-82–161) finished third in the medalist standings.
Rounding out Mason’s scores were: Raelynn Leifeste (91-91–182); Tristin Keller (93-98–191); Sydney Hardin (97-101–198); and Jesse Phillips (111-106–217).
This was Kade Burns’ first season as Mason’s golf coach. He now has a golf state championship to add to state football titles for the Punchers in 2011 and 2018. He retired as the head football coach in 2019 and is now the high school principal.
Mason is known around the state as the winningest tennis program with over 100 state titles over the years, and the Punchers’ football team had incredible success under Kade Burns.
The Punchers and Cowgirls are strong in other sports as well.
Both of their golf teams advanced to state this year, and the Cowgirls gave their fans a real treat by winning the first state golf title for either side.
“They really competed well,” the Mason coach said. “They had some bad holes, like (Monday), but they really came back and did well. They kind of stuck together mentally and finished the round off. With Lions, it’s such a difficult golf course because there’s so many trees.
“You could be playing good and all of a sudden make a 7 or an 8 real quick and we had that happen the last couple of days, not a whole lot, but we did have that happen. And they really rebounded well, so we were really proud with the way we competed. We didn’t think anybody was going to give it to us after Day 1. We had to go out and earn it.”
Last year, Mason finished second behind Normangee by 43 shots.
Avery Burns tied for second in 2021, and added a third-place finish in 2022.
What excites the coach’s daughter the most, however, is what the Cowgirls did as a team.
“It’s really, really, really exciting,” Avery Burns said. “All the hours that we put in have finally paid off. We made history for Mason High School, so it’s pretty exciting.”
And next year, her little sister, Ainsley, will be on the team.
What makes Keller’s performance this week so remarkable is that the state tourney was just the eighth golf tourney in her career after taking up the sport her senior year.
She’s made her mark in other sports and even played varsity football, but this is her first gold medal.
“She actually texted me before the tournament started when she was practicing and she said, ‘We’re going for the gold,’ ” Kade Burns said. “She’s tired of the bronze and the silver and she was ready to get a gold.
“She really played well. She’s really a competitor. The more that’s on the line, the better she seems to play and that’s really what we want.”
Ozona shot 436-431–867 to finish ninth at the 2A tourney.
The Lady Lions’ individual results were: Claire Bean (100-98–198); Krysten Webb (103-97–200); Skylar Lacy (109-111–220); Laramie Nowell (124-125–249); and Haley Nowell (130-148–278).
San Saba medalist Karlee Reed shot 87-99–186 at the 2A tourney.
The 1A tourney was held at Plum Creek Golf Course in Kyle.
Robert Lee shot 390-408–798 to edge Veribest (421-394–815) by 14 shots. Garden City (413-405–818) was 20 shots behind the Lady Steers.
The Lady Steers won titles in 2019 and 2021 before adding another one this year. The 2020 UIL tourney was canceled due to the pandemic, or else Robert Lee might be celebrating four straight titles.
Veribest’s Olivia Abbott (103-81–184) had a remarkable turnaround on Day 2 to tie Garden City’s Rylee Wood (94-90–184) for fourth place.
Mackenzie Galicia (95-101–196) and Braylee Hood (94-102–196) led the Lady Steers.
Rounding out Robert Lee’s scores were: Abbigayle Smith (94-115–209); Mia Galvan (113-96–209); and Kailey Freeman (121-109–230).
Despite having some rocky individual rounds, Robert Lee found a way to bring another title back to Coke County.
Lady Steers head coach Kerry Gartman talked about what this means to his program.
“Just the first two, it was definitely a big boost to the program,” the Lady Steers coach said. “We had nine girls out this year and we had two teams and seven girls playing regionals. We’ll have seven back from this year’s team for next year.
“Of course, we lose two big seniors — Braylee Hood, who’s been our No. 1, and then Mia Galvan, who led us today. That’s definitely going to hurt us losing those two seniors. But every year, somebody else has stepped up and that’s what we expect next year.”
Hood and Galvan got to go out on top.
“We started freshman year with the win and it was really amazing to end our senior year with a win,” Galvan said.
The Lady Steers battled through some adversity on both days, but that’s the way the game of golf is.
“My first day was rough and then I pulled it together today,” Galvan said. “And then some girls on the team had a good day (Monday) and a bad today, but I felt like all of us did the best that we could and we knew if one of us was having a bad day, someone else was having a good day.”
Veribest’s other results were: Alexis Salvato (102-98–200); Jalynne Campbell (109-109–218); Callie Briley (107-117–224); and Morgan Palmore (121-106–227).
The rest of Garden City’s results were: Shelby Braden (101-103–204); Kara Roberts (108-102–210); Briana Halfmann (110-110–220); and Amber Schwartz (120-112–232).
Richland Springs’ Sierra Tharp shot 106-102–208 at the 1A tourney, and Sterling City’s Makinzee Woods shot 106-106–212.
This article originally appeared on San Angelo Standard-Times: UIL GIRLS STATE GOLF: Wall, Mason and Robert Lee take team titles