After finishing the first round of the Class 6A state tournament in second place, the Benjamin Russell golf team improved its overall score by one shot in the second round. However, it was not enough to hold on to the runner-up trophy. Homewood and Gulf Shores both jumped the Wildcats as they finished fourth in the tournament Tuesday.
“I was disappointed (Tuesday),” BRHS coach Wes Tate said. “We had a shot at second but Homewood brought a veteran team and showed up (Tuesday). I’m not disappointed in our guys but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
As a team, the Wildcats finished 69-over par, six shots behind second-place Homewood and 42 shots behind state champion Muscle Shoals. Every team saw an improvement in its score from the first round at Prattville’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill.
“It played tough for everybody,” Tate said. “There were several scores that were not common for these teams. It just played tough.”
Benjamin Russell made the final four for the second consecutive season after finishing third in the event last year. The Wildcats returned only two of their five starters but managed to find a way back with the help of the two more experienced golfers.
Matthew Cush, who was the low medalist at sub-state, matched his score from last year at state. After shooting a 2-over 74 in the first round, he wrapped up the tournament with a 4-over 76 to finish in a tie for fourth place in 6A.
“He’s the most consistent golfer we have,” Tate said. “I’ll check up on him but I don’t have to because I know he’s coming in with a low score. He’s the true leader of this team.”
Trey Shockley had the second-best finish of the tournament for the Wildcats. He followed his 8-over 80 on Day 1 with a 12-over 84 in the second round to finish in a tie for 13th.
Jacob Scott improved his shot by one stroke in the second round, shooting a 10-over 82 to finish his tournament. He finished in a tie for 15th in his first appearance at state.
“We were here last year but it was new to a couple of them,” Tate said. “It was no surprise to be here. For the new ones, they may have been a little big eyed by the event. We don’t lose anyone so hopefully we can be back next year.”
Kyle Mattox had the biggest improvement of the week after shooting a 14-over 86 in the first round on Monday. He wrapped up the week with an 8-over 80, finishing 18th in the tournament.
Sawyer Parks also returned for his second year at the state tournament but had some trouble finding his stroke this week. After shooting 21-over in last year’s tournament, Parks finished 30-over to grab 22nd overall.
Despite the disappointment in Prattville, Tate said he hopes the program sees a shift in culture after making it to the final four again. The Wildcats will return all five of the golfers who played this week and Tate said they’ll be ready to get back on the course next season.
“I knew their work ethic,” Tate said. “Our season is over today but they’ll be back on the golf course tomorrow. Not because of me — I’ll be at football practice. They’ll be on their own and trying to get better.”