There was one big theme for Benjamin Russell boys golf coach Wes Tate when describing his senior class: Hard work.
“All of these guys were a big part of our team,” Tate said. “We went to three straight state tournaments and had a really good chance this year of making some noise because of them.”
The Wildcat golfers got used to success and a big part of that was staying in and around the golf course throughout the year. Even when the season was over, the Wildcats still made time to work on their technique and that paid dividends, especially for the six seniors.
Trey Shockley was the leader on the course and Tate expected him to do big things at state this year.
“He’s an incredibly hard worker,” Tate said. “He’s one of the first there and obviously one of the last to leave every day. That hard work has paid off for him to go play golf at the next level.”
Shockley has signed to play golf at Jeff State Community College.
Staying closer to home, Matthew Cush will be attending Central Alabama Community College next year.
“Matthew was another extremely hard worker — they all are,” Tate said. “He’s been with us as a competitor since ninth grade. He doesn’t say a whole lot, but he’s a great young man.”
Kyle Mattox was in an interesting boat as the only dual-sport athlete for the golf squad. After finishing off a successful wrestling season, where he advanced to the AHSAA Class 6A championships at 120 pounds, Mattox immediately took to the golf course.
“He came to us from wrestling and he would always hit the ground running,” Tate said. “He was another one that was at the course all the time. We would have scheduled practices of course, but he’s one that would be there on Saturdays and Sundays too.”
Mattox plans to entered the military and has joined the workforce during the coronavirus pandemic in the meantime.
Sawyer Parks improved with each season on the links at Benjamin Russell and Tate expected him to have his best year yet if it hadn’t been for the season getting cut short.
“This is a sport where you gotta stay in contact with it or you’re going to lose your edge,” Tate said. “Sawyer is at the course all year round. We finished our seasons in May and as soon as the season is over, which would be on a Tuesday, then Wednesday, he was back at the golf course.”
Caziah Gilmore and Harrison Kelly rounded out the senior class for the Wildcat golf team. Both stuck with the sport despite not getting as many rounds counted in competition as some of the others. Tate said they were both excellent teammates and showed improvements throughout their varsity careers.
“Caziah is another hard worker and he looked forward to coming to practice every day,” Tate said. “Harrison stayed with the group and he always had a great attitude. I didn’t have to stand over him and say, ‘Hey, this is what we need to do.’ He just did it.”
Parks, Gilmore and Kelly all plan to continue their educations in college. Tate said despite the season’s end, he’s maintained a good relationship with his team, including the seniors, and they’ve taken advantage of golf being one of the few things people can actually still do during this time.
“These guys have been playing together probably since before even middle school,” Tate said. “They really like each other a lot and they’re together all the time. I still talk to them regularly and usually when I talk to them, I say, ‘Where’ve you been?’ And they all say, ‘Oh, at the golf course.’”