MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

May 14, 2014

PREP STATE GOLF: Tahlequah dominates in 5A; Area has two 4A runners-up

FORT SILL — Nick Baker envisioned the future and glow was exceedingly bright. He had a collection of golfers that he thought could one day yield a state championship.

That premonition came true on Tuesday.

Tahlequah — which led by six strokes heading into the final 18 holes — shot a final-round score of 309 and finished the Class 5A state tournament with a 912 and won the state championship by one stroke over Shawnee (913).

“I’ve coached these kids since they were really young,” Baker said. “I’ve coached them through youth clinics at Cherry Springs, which is now Cherokee Springs. I could tell these guys had a great future ahead of them.”

The promising future became fulfilling present at Fort Sill Golf Course in southwestern Oklahoma, just a few miles north of Lawton.

It all started Monday when the Tigers raced out to a three-stroke lead after the first 18 holes. Tahlequah recorded a 300 to begin the tournament and followed with a 303 to wrap up a 36-hole total of 603, which was good enough for a six-stroke lead over Shawnee (609) heading into the final round.

That prompted Shawnee coach Kelly Parsons to say, “I didn’t think we played very well the first 18 holes.”

Those first 18 hurt Shawnee in the long run, too.

The Wolves shot the lowest total on the final day with a 304, but Tahlequah’s 309 was good enough to claim its first golf championship.

“When it was posted that we won by one,” Baker said, “I can’t describe that feeling.”

It’s the first championship for a Tahlequah team in any sport since slowpitch softball won a title in 2006. The last boys team to pick up a state crown was Tahlequah’s baseball team in 1996.

“I’m happy for Tahlequah High School,” Baker said. “I’m happy for these kids. It’s not easy to win a state championship. I’m kind of at a loss for words.”

Tahlequah was led by NSU signee Jake Johnson, who shot a 74 in the final round. Johnson (215, 70-71-74) also won the individual championship, beating Lawton MacArthur’s Trent Meisel (216, 72-70-74) by one stroke.

“It feels awesome,” Johnson said. “It’s what we’ve worked for all year and we did it.”

Tahlequah’s Blake Berry carded a 73 in the final round and finished with a 223, which was good enough for a seventh-place tie. Hunter Pennington (232, 73-79-80), Blake Cochran (244, 85-77-82) and Kyler Arnall (249, 83-83-83) rounded out the rest of Tahlequah’s scores. — Ben Johnson, Tahlequah Daily Press

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