— The following were voted the area’s top athletes by the Phoenix staff in three spring sports — golf, track and tennis. Read on to find out their stories of success.
Catrina Pearson, Muskogee (girls)
Zac Oliver, Checotah (boys)
Pearson shot 83 in her first tournament at Ponca City’s Lew Wentz Golf Course and the negative thoughts flooded her mind.
“I struggle at that course anyway but starting out rough I thought ‘here comes a bad season,’ said Pearson, a Muskogee High senior. “I said that because last season I really didn’t show the potential I wanted to and I set a goal this year of staying under 80.”
After the seventh-place finish, she took second at the Tahlequah tournament with a 78 at Cherry Springs Golf Course, finishing only behind 4A state champion Hannah Ward of Poteau.
It would be a sign of things to come.
After a first, two seconds and a fourth-place finish sprinkled around an eighth and ninth place outing, Pearson followed an 80 at the Class 6A state tournament at Muskogee Country Club with the event’s only sub-par round, a 1-under 70. It moved her from 11th to fourth overall, splitting the thought-to-be invincible Union squad to get there.
“Almost every single tournament, I came back the next tournament with a good round,” she said. “It was like I proved to myself that the second day I could always bounce back.”
She even recreated the day she shot 69 in a summer tournament at her home course before the second day of state.
“I was just off that,” she said just before the medal ceremony.
She had five birdies, including back-to-back birdie putts from six to eight feet away on the eighth and ninth holes, the last two holes of her round, for her best-ever state finish.
Pearson will attend Grand Canyon (Ariz.) on a golf scholarship next fall. “Finishing that way, my last high school tournament, will be the one thing I’ll never forget,” she said. “It was great to go out that way.”