STATE BOUND: Pike Liberal Arts golf team prepares for state after five members qualify individually
Published 3:00 am Thursday, April 9, 2015
The Pike Liberal Arts Golf team qualified for state following the team’s first tournament of the year, five of the team’s members qualified individually to go to state.
Brax Barron, Susie Stell, Christopher Farrar, Seth Arrington and Ryan Johnson each qualified for state individually Tuesday during the team’s outing hosted by Fort Dale Academy in Greenville. Head coach Gene Allen said he was proud of the showing the team had, and said he was eager to see what the team had in store during state play.
“It’s really good for the team,” Allen said. “A lot of the pressure was taken off of us after the first tournament because you could qualify your team by shooting 360 or less, and we did that. So it kind of took a lot of pressure off. We wouldn’t have been able to play everybody in the state tournament unless a few qualified as individuals.”
Barron, a seventh-grader at PLAS, said he had initially joined the golf team because he had not played baseball this past season but had found a sport he truly loved in golf.
“I didn’t play baseball and I regretted it,” Barron said. “I wanted to play something. When I joined the golf team, I’ve been out there every day until dark since, and it paid off.”
Barron watched his dad play golf and he had played a bit this past summer, but for his first year on the PLAS golf team Barron said he didn’t think he would be going to state.
“I’ve gotten way better at chipping and putting and I’ve been putting in work to get better,” Barron said. “I feel honored, and I thank my family and God. Coach Allen told me I could break 90 because I hit a 94 and I thought I could break 90, it’s only four strokes.”
Stell, the only girl to qualify individually for state, has had a fantastic year, and she said she attributed it to her ability to her willingness to continue improving her game.
“I’ve improved with my lines, a lot,” Stell said. “I’ve gained some strength and yardage since last year. One of my goals for the year was to qualify for state both from the boys and girls tees.”
Stell was able to dot hat, and she said she had really strived to get better with her accuracy and chipping.
“I’ve had good accuracy with hitting my fairways and I’ve gotten better at chipping,” Stell said. “I’ve been able to get up and down better, instead of chipping it and two putting it I’ve been able to chip it up and one put the ball saving par.”
Johnson, a PLAS senior, has been playing golf since he was 6 years old, and Johnson said two months ago the idea of him going to state was just a dream.
“It’s exciting, since I wouldn’t have expected this two months ago,” Johnson said. “It’s a dream come true.”
Johnson has metaled in many of the team’s tournaments this season, and Allen said his expectations were high for Johnson, especially since the senior will be signing with Faulkner University later this season.
“Ryan has had a tremendous year,” Allen said. “He’s won three tournaments so far, and he’s been the runner up in a couple of them. He has not been, but two or three strokes behind every medalist at the tournaments. He’s having a great year overall.” But, Allen said all the focus should really be on the amount of effort and support the team’s parents provide.
“One thing we have that’s been a big plus, and always has been, we’ve got all this great parental support,” Allen said. “Their parents are at tournaments, they’re backing them up, they are pushing them to do better. If they need lessons, they get them lesson. We’ve really just got a great set of parents, and that helps out a lot.”
The Patriots will participate in this year’s state tournament hosted at the Troy Country Club April 27-28. Allen said he was proud of the effort the team had shown this past season, as a whole and individually.
“This year with Ryan playing as good as he’s playing and him being a senior, it gives him a good opportunity to win the state individual medalist,” Allen said. “The team knows Country Club because we practice there and they feel comfortable playing it. There area a lot of good golfers in AISA, and I hope this tournament will be one that will help the team this year. I’m glad it’s here.”