UIL state golf tournament begins Thursday

For the third consecutive year, the Martins Mill Mustangs will be competing in the UIL Class 1A State Golf Tournament in Austin. Team members are (from left) Donald Jackson, Zak Tharp, Will Schneider, Jackson Latimer, Hunter Bennett and coach Mike Watters. The tournament begins Thursday at Lions Municipal Golf Course.

Rick Flanagan enjoys being addressed as “coach.”

He’s, after all, spent most of his career as one.

These days find him in the role of Quitman ISD superintendent. This week, however, has offered him an opportunity to coach again.

With the Quitman girls and boys golf teams both at state, Flanagan has stepped in to help guide the girls team. Head coach Karl Kilgore is coaching the boys.

The UIL Class 2A state tournament is today and Friday at Roy Kizer Golf Course in Austin. The Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs begin at the same time on different holes, meaning two coaches will be needed.

Flanagan, the head boys basketball coach at Pine Tree in the 1990s, jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s great to have 10 kids down here,” Flanagan said. “Most teams are coming in a car. We get to pull up in a big air conditioned bus, which makes us feel good.”

The boys team is making its fourth consecutive appearance at state, after capturing the title two years ago. The girls, meanwhile, have never advanced this far, Kilgore said.

The Bulldogs consist of Jake Gorman, Jordan Bates, Joel Cameron, Blake Thurman and George Sinopoli.

Gorman and Bates, the top players, are the lone seniors.

“What draws my attention the most is that they’ve been here four times,” Flanagan said. “They seem to be hungrier this year than they were last year. Of course you never know. I think it will come down to the greens.”

The Lady Bulldogs include Molli Taylor, Kaleigh Martin, Abbi Taylor, Emily Opperman and Patience Barnes.

All five are set to return next year.

“When you come to the big dance there’s a lot of pressure,” Flanagan said. “We just completed the front nine (of the practice round) and they were a little awed by the water and sand. But they settled down. If they can have a good showing here this year and with all those kids returning, it can become another tradition for Quitman ISD.”

Kilgore likes the thought of that, too.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “We are so proud of the girls. They worked so hard to get here.

“(The tradition) all started about five years ago when two boys decided to not play basketball and football. Jordan Bates and Jake Gorman decided they were going to play straight golf and everything built from there. They are the leaders and are the ones who established our tradition.”

That tradition has allowed Flanagan to return to coaching for a week.

“The kids are competing and representing their school with a lot of spirit and integrity,” Flanagan said. “We have great kids down here. It makes me proud that they represented our school district with honor, character and integrity.”

The Union Grove girls and Troup boys are also at state. Union Grove won the 2A Region III title over the Quitman girls, while Troup placed second behind the Quitman boys.

Union Grove’s lineup includes Carson Woodruff, Mallorie Attaway, Hannah Schnelle, Hailey Bowan and Kaitelyn Breazelle.

Troup is comprised of Mujtaba Ghene, Will Langston, John Dobbs, Austin Chambers and JK Hamilton.

Sabine’s Jared Streeter advanced as a boys medalist.

The 3A and 1A state tournaments are set for today and Friday at Jimmy Clay Golf Course and Lions Municipal Golf Course, respectively.

Lindale’s D.J. Godoy and Henderson’s William Wilder will be competing as boys medalists in 3A.

The Martins Mill boys and Grapelend girls are in the 1A field.

Martins Mill’s lineup consists of Jackson Latimer, Will Schneider, Hunter Bennett, Zak Tharp and Donald Jackson.

Grapeland’s roster includes Shelby Frauenberger, Jayde Westbrook, Amy Brown, Justine Dancer and Kalee Walker.

Grapeland’s Cameron Boyd (boys) and Cross Roads’ Josey Nutt (girls) advanced to state as medalists.

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