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McAlester Golfers Primed For The Next Round – Presented by Jordan Barnett Agency

The game of golf can be tricky as well as challenging. It’s a sport that requires teams and its players to stay in the moment, focused on the next shot. And, after qualifying the girls and boys golf teams for the Class 5A state tournaments the last two years, McAlester’s young teams managed to only qualify two individuals from each squad and the importance of every shot after the two squads each missed the cut by three strokes.

“For our girls, I think we missed having Taylor Fox who was our 3 bag two years ago but didn’t get to play this year because of a wrestling injury. So we were young, and I think that by not getting to move on this year the girls learned a valuable lesson about just how important each and every stroke is when you get into regionals,” said coach Justin Bond.

Looking to next year, the Lady Buffs will welcome back junior Emily Shelton who, along with departing senior Abigail Brown, qualified individually for state this year.

“Emily had top five finishes in four tournaments this year and placed 25th at state. She’s determined to improve on that next year. I don’t think she’s put down the clubs since she got back from state, and she’s playing in most of the stops in the area circuit this summer,” said Bond. “Abigail was part of our state
tournament qualifiers for two years and was our leader this spring.”

In addition to Shelton, Bond is hoping that Fox returns in good health next year and is high on sophomores-to-be Audrey Rampey and Shaylin Arnold.

The boys were young this year with sophomore Shawn Perkins and freshman Seth Gilliam leading the way with both qualifying individually for state. Seth, who’s only been playing golf for a couple of years, finished 22nd at state while Shawn, by his own admission, had a disappointing day at state but still placed in four tournaments during the year.

“Both of them will play on the summer circuit this year and I expect they will be much improved by next spring,” said Bond.

“Our #3 bag was Zane Owens who placed 26th at state two years ago. He had a bad day at regionals this year and didn’t qualify for state but I’m confident he’ll bounce back next year.”

The boys’ team will have a lot of depth next season which means a lot of competition for those top five playing spots.

“Junior Nate Eaton filled in for us this year when we had any absences and if he can become more consistent in his scoring, he’ll make a run at one of those spots. Senior-to-be Hayden Graham was our #5 bag this year and we’re hoping to see him continue improving. Sophomore Caleb McPhetridge will make
a run for a starting spot, and we have some eighth graders moving up that hope to be in the mix including Jackson Miller.

He also plays baseball and if he chooses to devote more time to golf, I think he could be a competitor,” said Bond. “I think we’re a program on the rise, maybe not a championship team yet, but that’s what we’re talking to them about. More of the kids are buying into that idea and the more they believe it, the better they’ll perform.”

Photos Courtesy Mark Emmons Photography

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