Sabine, Troup find friendship after 2012 controversy

The Sabine and Troup boys golf teams stand together after the regional tournament in a show of friendship. Sabine’s players, in blue (from left) are Spencer Barrett, Collin Gray, Jared Streeter, Tell DeFreece, Austin Gray and Spencer Gregory. Troup’s players, in white, are Cody Johnson, Callen Eastman, Hunter Arnold, Austin Chambers, Travis Young and Dakota Boyer. (Courtesy)

The 2012 regional tournament ended in controversial fashion, leading to tensions boiling between Sabine and Troup.

Arguments flared regarding which team should advance to state, but Troup eventually prevailed after previously being disqualified. It was a chaotic situation normally unseen in golf, one that culminated with a one-stroke separation.

Now fast forward to this spring. Matters were much different at the 2013 regional golf tournament, held earlier this month at Bullard’s Oak Hurst Golf Course.

Following the event, Sabine and Troup joined together for a group photo to symbolize the newfound unity between the district and regional rivals. And unlike last season, each team will complete its spring at the UIL state tournament in Austin.

“Coach (John) Eastman took over golf this year and I took over golf this year and he and I get along really well,” Sabine coach Stuart Proctor said. “We had a chance to talk and we put last year in the past. Both of us agreed that it shouldn’t have come down to that.”

Sabine, which claimed the regional title this season, and Troup compete in the Class 2A state tournament Thursday and Friday at Austin’s Roy Kizer Golf Course. It will be Troup’s fourth consecutive appearance in the tournament, and the program’s fifth in six years.

The run almost came to an end at regionals last season, though, before the UIL expanded the state bracket to three teams from each region for this season and on. With every shot counting, Troup was disqualified for an illegal play on the ball and appeared on the way to the offseason.

But after a debate that reached all the way to the UIL headquarters in Austin, Troup’s disqualification was overturned and the Tigers were set to join regional champion Quitman at state.

This year, Troup and Sabine first ran into each other at the Bullard Brook Hill tournament at Eagle’s Bluff Country Club. A high level of tension between the teams was still clear then, but it all went away by the time district came around.

With both teams usually atop leaderboards on the final day, Sabine and Troup were usually grouped together and that allowed for the players to get to know each other on a friendly level. Sabine returned its entire team from last year, but Troup brought back only one player.

“They’ve got some good kids,” Eastman said. “It was unfortunate what happened last year. (This year) the kids developed relationships and they became friends. In the first tournament of the year there was some tension, but as the year went along they were supporting each other and rooting for each other.”

The kumbaya moments haven’t been born from coach speak, either — just ask the players.

“We kind of let our emotions get out of control,” Sabine captain Jared Streeter said about last year. “We all apologized and we just really bonded this year.”

Said Troup captain Austin Chambers, who’ll end his high school career with four trips to state: “I feel like it was a bitter rivalry, kind of like the Red Sox and Yankees. But this year I feel like we’ve played each other more and have been friendly. It’s more friendly than it’s ever been.”

Sabine enters state after sweeping the district and regional meets, thanks in large part to Streeter. The senior, who advanced to state as a medalist last year, fired 73-72—145 to lead the Cardinals at regionals.

The lineup also comprised Austin Gray (89-84—173), Spencer Gregory (87-86—173), Tell DeFreece (87-89—176) and Collin Gray (92-98—190).

“Going into regionals we had a lot of confidence,” Streeter said. “We’ve been like that all year. We’ve been the 2A team to beat all year. … We’ve done really great.”

Troup, meanwhile, was led at regionals by Chambers’ 161 that featured rounds of 79 and 82. The Tigers’ lineup also included Travis Young (82-81—163), Callen Eastman (94-85—179), Cody Johnson (105-95—200) and Dakota Boyer (82-102—184).

“They graduated four seniors last year and the expectations weren’t as high this year,” Eastman said. “We’ve got two freshmen that came on and improved the whole year. … We just wanted to give ourselves a chance. We felt like if we could improve on a weekly basis, we could get there.”

At regionals, Sabine outlasted Troup by 13 strokes at 667 -680. The four lowest individual scores are applied to each team’s total score.

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