The Wildcats delivered -- twice now -- and after Tuesday somebody at the school is going to have to build a trophy case.
The upstart team collected the first state tournament trophy in its school’s history, holding on for a second-place finish in the Class 3A boys golf championships at The Shoals.
The Wildcats posted a second-day team score of 323 on the Schoolmaster
Course for a two-day total 635 to edge Lauderdale County by four shots for the runner-up trophy. Bayside Academy shot a final-round 297 to win its first golf state title by 34 shots.
“Everybody wanted to be first,” Wildcats’ ninth-grader Trevor Lane said.
“The second-place trophy is just as big, it’s just a different color.
“We’ve never had a banner in our gym before (winning) the sub-state. We wanted to get one for coach this year. Not only did we get one for sub-state, but now there’s two.”
It was the eighth trophy that Harrell’s stable of underclassmen have collected in this start-up season. Among the others are boys and girls runner-ups in the Calhoun County tournament and boys section runners-up.
“In the beginning of the year people say they set out goals, but when people heard what our goals actually were they thought it was unrealistic,” Harrell said. “I knew if we put in the time and the effort we had a chance to do something special.
“Did we do something special? Yes, we did, but I still felt like we came up
a little bit short.”
That’s because Harrell is always looking for the win, and it would have taken playing the best they had all season to make it happen on this day.
As it was, 10th-grader Dustin Travis posted the team’s low round of the day with a final-round 2-over-par 74. It helped him finish 10th individually, the highest finish of any Calhoun County boy at the tournament.
The Wildcats also counted an 81 from Lane, Layton Bussey’s 82 and Kyle
Morrow’s 86. No. 5 man Dylan Griggs shot 87, and his score would’ve been the winning difference if White Plains and Lauderdale County had finished tied.
It was that close at one point on the back nine, but Travis played a huge part in pulling the Wildcats through. He got off to a rough start -- as all the Wildcats did but played his final seven holes in 2 under (with three birdies) and made a 20-footer for par on the final hole.
“When I went to the back coach gave me a little pep talk that our guys were pulling through for me,” Travis said, “so I started playing my own game and knocking down shots close to the pin and rolled a few putts in.
“He talked to me right after 11 and said Lauderdale was close to us. Right then it clicked in my head to start knocking shots close.”
And because of it, the Wildcats have a lasting symbol of the success they established this year.
“They talk all the time about leaving history, making history, leaving your mark on the school,” Harrell said. “There have been a lot of great teams at different schools but nobody knows anything about them because there’s nothing to remember them by.
“We joke around all year about how we wanted to have a banner in the gym and that’s what they’ve been joking around since today’s been over -- how they actually got me two. I’m proud of them. They’ve done really good.”
Class 1A-5A girls
The tears flowed freely from the Alexandria golf team. Its third-place finish only exacerbated the emotion.
This was about the end of an era, and the Valley Cubs wanted it to end a lot more gloriously than it did.
The tournament was the last for coach Brenard Howard, who is retiring this year after 15 seasons with the school’s golf program, eight with the girls.
The Valley Cubs were looking to hold onto the second position they held by one shot entering the day. They were able to hold off Hartselle and appeared primed for hardware, but were overtaken for the runner-up trophy by
Westbrook Christian’s final-round 243, which was nearly 30 shots better than the day before. Muscle Shoals won the team title with a two-day total of
The Valley Cubs shot 261 on the Schoolmaster Course for the second straight day and finished at 522. They counted an 84 from Jordan Gregoria, an 88 from Courtney Randle and an 89 from Katie Roberts. Jessica Howard shot 95.
Gregoria finished seventh individually. Randle, the team’s lone senior, was tied for 17th.
“I felt like I played the best that I could play, and it’s just disappointing when you know you did all you could do (and come up short),”
Randle said, wiping the tears from her eyes. “I wasn’t really playing for myself. It was more for (Howard) because of all that he has done for us.
“And it’s not just me -- it’s been since the golf program started and it’s just carried on through. It’s more disappointing that we couldn’t give him a state championship to go out on.”
During Howard’s run with the girls, the Valley Cubs have won one state championship (2008) and finished second three times. He called them his favorite team to coach.
No driver, no problem.
Alexandria junior Cole McNeal played his second round on the 6,506-yard
Fighting Joe Course without a driver and actually scored five shots better than the day before when snapped his big stick over his right knee.
McNeal posted a 6-over 78 to finish at 161, 11th place in Class 4A boys.
Using predominantly a 3-wood off the tee, the long-hitting left-hander missed only three fairways and hit 13 greens. He hit only four fairways Monday.
He was only 1 over through 11 and made two birdies on the back.
“Out of all the courses we played this year this was the longest and the longest I had into a hole was pitching wedge,” McNeal said. “I hit that 3-wood 50 times straighter. I think I’ll go the rest of the (Calhoun County Golf Tour) without a driver. I think I’ll hit 3-wood the rest of the tour.”
Alexandria teammate Dalton Chandler shot 84 and finished tied for 17th
(164). Cleburne County’s Hayden Crowe, playing in the same group, shot 101 to finish 33rd in 4A boys. Piedmont’s Hunter Pike shot 84 to finish 25th in 3A boys.
Al Muskewitz covers golf for The Anniston Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.