When the 2021 UIL Boys State Tournament gets underway Monday, some area golfers will get their first chance to compete on the big stage while others will tee it up for the final time in their high school careers.
Monahans senior Alonso Ruiz is one of those golfers closing his career at state. Ruiz and the rest of the Loboes are back in the state tournament looking to earn their third straight state title after the pandemic put the run on pause for a year. He said that he’s used that break to improve on his game, focusing more on golf after his baseball season was cut short.
“I took COVID as a time to play a lot of golf tournaments and I got a lot better through that time,” Ruiz said.
Monahans head coach Cameron Swarb said he has two golfers on his team — Ruiz and fellow senior Bond Heflin — that have been to the state tournament and three who haven’t, so this year will provide a new challenge.
The Loboes earned their way back to Plum Creek Golf Course in Kyle after finishing third at the Region I-4A Tournament in April in Lubbock.
Swarb added that it felt good getting another chance to compete in the event after seeing his team come together and get stronger over the year.
“You see the level of commitment increase big time and their work ethic,” he said. “It’s fun to watch the process of them growing, becoming men and taking some initiative on things.”
The Loboes will not be the only area Class 4A program represented at the state tournament.
Fort Stockton’s Alex Williams will make his first appearance after securing one of three individual spots at the Region I-4A Tournament. He was able to break through at the regional competition after coming close in previous years.
Head coach Lea Daggett said his golfer was playing at a high level in 2020 before his campaign was wiped out. After entering Williams in some 5A and 6A tournaments this year, Daggett said the golfer was able to keep his score anywhere between 65 and 75.
Williams was happy to see his hard work pay off when he learned he had qualified for state and will continue his playing career at Odessa College.
“It’s just a big blessing to be able to be here and be in this position that I’m in,” Williams said. “Especially at the level I’m at.”
The other individual competing in Kyle will be Seminole junior Cason Johnson who is making his second trip to state.
Johnson said he felt heartbroken when he first found out he would be advancing out of the Region I-4A Tournament. He was happy for what he accomplished individually but wanted to see the rest of his team advance with him.
“In that moment, it was kind of hard to fathom,” he said.
Johnson knew he had to get back to work immediately after receiving his qualifying scores, practicing on keeping the ball in play before the state tournament officially begins.
He is confident in his ability to shoot and putt, but he wants to give himself more looks at birdies as the competition moves forward.
The tournament is set to begin Monday and go through Tuesday.
Williams tees off at 8 a.m. off the No. 1 tee Monday with Johnson teeing off at the same time off the 10th tee. The Loboes will start play off the No. 10 tee starting at 8:10 a.m.
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