Meridian Star

May 9, 2013

Lamar Golf wins state

Tony Tsoukalas
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Throughout the season, every member of the Lamar golf team has been reminded of the tradition the program holds at the school. After back-to-back years of coming up short at the state championships, the weight was finally lifted off the Raiders’ shoulders, as Lamar shot a combined 296 in the MAIS 2A Golf Championship at Brookhaven Country Club on Tuesday to bring home a 22nd state title.

    “Lamar has a great tradition in golf, and there is a lot of pressure,” Lamar coach Shane Blanton said. “At practice, everybody will tell them, ‘y’all got to carry the load and keep the tradition going.’ They really responded to that, winning South State and State this year.

    “They have really just improved from the get go. Tuesday was 16 shots better than any other time they have shot all year. They have really just continued to develop over the year.”

    Leading the way for the Raiders was Lance Strickland, who is new to the team this season. A three-sport athlete at Lamar, Strickland hit an even 70 on the day. Will Whitehead was second on the team, shooting a 74 and was followed by Walker Whitehead (75), Trevor Boling (77), Eli Wilkinson (82) and Holton Westbrook (85).

    “Lance Strickland really came through in the end,” Blanton said. “He carried the load, shooting a 70. After the baseball season, he came out in qualifying each week until he earned a spot. He really stepped up for us.”

    It was also a big day for Boling, as he shot under 80 for the first time all season. Though golf if an individual sport, Blanton said the team worked together, providing encouragement to one another throughout the whole tournament.

    “They were cheering each other on the whole time,” Blanton said. “After Trevor Boling finished up shooting his 77, they all went over to see what he shot, because that determined how we would finish. After he told them he shot a 77, you could see them all cheering.

    “In a golf team event, it’s that third and fourth person that make it for you. They just continue to get better. We won a tournament earlier with a 336 total. To change it almost 40 strokes, it just shows how the boys are working on the range and doing what they should be doing.”

    Lamar (296) beat out Manchester Academy (305), Brookhaven Academy (311) and Central Hinds Academy (311).

     “I was surprised to win by nine,” Blanton said. “I really thought we had a good shot going in, because we beat Brookhaven in South State, which I thought would be our toughest competition. I didn’t know we’d win by that much.”

    With such a young team, Blanton said Lamar supporters should continue to expect the program to carry on its winning ways in the future.

    “I think we have a strong young group with two sophomores leading the way,” Blanton said. “We also have a nice group of young golfers coming up. I think we should be very competitive in years to come.”