JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
AUSTIN — The Llano boys and Burnet girls high school golf teams wrapped up their seasons with top 10 finishes at the Class 4A state tournament April 27-28 at the Onion Creek Golf Club.
The Yellow Jackets won a playoff against Texarkana Pleasant Grove for third place after posting a 308-325–633 for the best finish in program history, bettering last year’s fourth-place finish. Clayton Meyers was the silver medalist thanks to shooting a 71-77–148.
“It feels great,” Llano head coach Mike McIntosh said. “Day two was a struggle, and the kids never gave up. The playoff was very thrilling.”
The Lady Dawgs were sixth after the first round but lowered their team score on the second day. However, it didn’t move them up the ranks as they stayed in the same spot with a 396-384–780.
“Nothing to be ashamed of,” Burnet head coach Roy Kiser said.
In the playoff, Llano and Pleasant Grove returned to the 18th hole to tee off. They used the four lowest scores to post a cumulative total.
Tyler McDonough had a birdie, while Chance Craig parred the hole. The other three had bogeys, so Llano used two of those.
Meanwhile, Pleasant Grove had a birdie and four bogeys, allowing the Jackets to claim third by a single stroke.
Before they began the playoff, McIntosh huddled his golfers together to tell them they couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to end their high school careers.
“Every player on the team contributed to winning the medal,” he said. “The nucleus of the team of Clayton, Chance Craig and Tyler McDonough led the effort. Tells us the heart of these boys.”
Most of the teams shot higher scores on the second day. Macintosh said that was the result of strong winds and pin placements.
Still, Meyers turned in his usual performance, the coach said.
“Clayton has been the most consistent player throughout the four years,” he said. “That certainly served him well the last two days. He certainly deserved his medal.”
McIntosh said there are no words to describe what it feels like to have a team live up to the expectations and pressure of a season. After all, Meyers, McDonough, Craig and Simpson returned from the 2014 team determined to have a better finish.
“I have too many memories to count,” McIntosh said. “I coached some of these boys for six years. Working with these boys over the years has been a major highlight of my coaching career.”
Kiser noted coaches tried to do some things to help ease how big the moment of teeing off at the state tournament is. But when golfers are announced as they’re about to tee off for the first time at the state tournament, Kiser said there’s not a whole lot that can be done to prepare a group making its first appearance there.
“To be honest, I was nervous for them,” he said with a smile. “It was a different environment for all of them. Everybody stands there and watches you. There’s some anxiety that goes there.”
Burnet was among the last teams to begin its first round and was one of the first to start the second round. And like the professionals and college golfers, the high school players must walk the course from hole to hole.
“There’s a fatigue factor they had to play through,” Kiser said.
Lauren Beckwith paced the Lady Dawgs with an 88-86-174. Kiser said he saw plenty of special events during the tournament. Top of the list was Beckwith being coached by her dad, assistant coach Stuart Beckwith, during her final high school event.
“That was great for them,” Kiser said. “Her dad was such a great influence, and he got to coach his daughter on that last round.”
Until this year, Burnet struggled to post a team score because it didn’t always have four golfers playing in a single tournament, which is required by the University Interscholastic League.
But Lauren Beckwith changed that, Kiser said.
“She has done so much to encourage other players to play,” he said. “Because of her leadership, character, her personality in being so friendly, other girls wanted to be around her. She was instrumental to us having a team.”
And that influence will be felt in the years to come, he said. Taylor Carroll, who shot a 99-85–184 for the second lowest total on the squad, already has committed to spending the offseason working on her game, the coach said. This experience has made Reagan Giesenchlag and Malory Alvarez eager to return, too.
“We have some big shoes to fill,” he said. “We had some good players coming in, and they made marked improvement. When you do something like this, when you do it the first time, you realize it can be done, we can do this. I think it’ll be good for us.”
RESULTS: Llano boys – 2, Clayton Meyers, 71-77–148; 24t, Chance Craig, 78-82–160; 30, Tyler McDonough, 79-83–162; 32t, Alex Benge, 81-83–164; 49t, Holden Simpson, 80-91–171
Burnet girls – 21, Lauren Beckwith, 88-86–174; 32, Taylor Carroll, 99-85–184; 52t, Malory Alvarez, 105-105–210; 56t, Reagan Giesenchlag, 104-108–212; 60, Jodi Hill, 111-109–220.