Pike Lib Golf finding success in AHSAA

Published 9:46 am Friday, March 31, 2023

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The Pike Liberal Arts boys golf team is in the midst of its first season in the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and is already finding success.

Pike Lib is coming off a 2022 season in which the Patriots won their fifth state championship in school history, and first since 2011, under head coach Gene Allen. The Patriots lost a number of the veterans from that team, however.

“We lost three of our top five from last year,” Allen said. “Two of them, Jace Calhoun and Peyton Jacobs signed to play golf at ESCC, and Cooper Lindsey moved.”

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Braden Prestwood and Jackson Cleveland are the only returners out of the top five from last season’s state championship team and are leading the way this season.

“Braden Prestwood and Jackson Cleveland are both juniors and are both very good golfers,” Allen said. “They’re playing the one and two right now and I can usually count on those two to be anywhere from the high 60s to the low 70s, they’re pretty consistent and the leaders of the team.

“Ford Hussey is real consistent for us, too. He’s moved up and he’s anywhere from the mid 70s to the low 80s. Bryant Swindall was playing really well for us at the end of last year and he’s getting back there. He played basketball and that got him a late start this year. Our new kid, James Sikes, is getting a lot better, too. He’s a ninth grader and the key is getting all five of them playing well by the end of the year.”

Pike Lib is coming off a second place finish at the Cambrian Ridge Tournament on March 22 in Greenville, while Prestwood and Cleveland earned co-medalist in Pike’s win over Andalusia on March 20. Prestwood also earned low medalist at the Elba Golf Tournament on March 15.

“We’ve played fair,” Allen said. “We had some really good tournaments and we had some tournaments where we scored a little higher than we wanted to. We’re getting better every week, though. You have to be playing good at the end of the year, that’s the key.”

To be playing well by the time sectionals come around, Allen said that his team simply has to get more consistent day in and day out.

“The biggest thing is just not having big numbers,” he emphasized. “We’ll have some tournaments where we have a couple of kids that might make an eight or a nine on a hole. When we start having triple bogeys or quad bogeys, your scores add up. We have to get away form that and that all comes down to consistency; getting out there and playing consistently. We’re getting better and better and hopefully by the end of April or first of May – when the big tournaments come – we’ll be doing away with all those big numbers and then we’ll be fine.”

For the first time this season, PLAS also boasts a girls team. The AISA didn’t sanction girls golf, so the girls had to play on the boys team. The PLAS girls earned a first place finish at a recent tournament in Elba and also captured second at the Cambrian Ridge Tournament on March 22. The PLAS girls squad is made up of freshmen Taylor Ellis and Alden O’Connor along with senior Molly Jordan.

“Being able to have a girls team has really been a plus for us,” Allen said. “A couple of those girls are first time players, too. Hopefully we can get them to where they can do well when we get to sectionals.”

For the first time, PLAS also has a girls team. Submitted photo)

On April 3 the PLAS golf team hosts a number of schools for a tournament at the Troy Country Club, weather permitting. The teams scheduled to compete alongside Pike are Samson, Kinston, Andalusia, Elba, Rehobeth, New Brockton, Eufaula, Straughn and WS Neal.

After that, Pike hosts another tournament on April 10 beginning at noon before the boys head over to Enterprise to compete in tournament action at the Enterprise Country Club on April 12.

The boys team travels back to Greenville for more tournament action on April 18 before playing Elba on April 25 and at Rehobeth on April 27. Sectionals for both the boys and girls begin on May 2.