HIGH SCHOOL GOLF: Monahans looking to protect its title

The Monahans boys golf team entered last year’s UIL Class 4A state tournament on the hunt to take home a state golf title.
After winning it all last year, the Loboes are back again, this time with the target on their backs.
Monahans starts its title defense Monday at Plum Creek Golf Club at Kyle.
Even as the Loboes come in as the team to beat, they still feel like they have something to prove.
“It’s definitely a different feeling this time around,” sophomore Bond Heflin said. “Last year, I feel like we had to win it with the team we had.
“This year, I feel like we have to go get it.”
The Loboes are also motivated by coming up two shots short of Argyle from winning another Region I-4A title last month.
The Eagles — along with Monahans and Andrews — among the 12 teams in the field competing for that state crown.
“I think it left a bad taste in their mouths,” said head coach Cameron Swarb on the regional tournament. “These guys don’t like to lose and they showed they’re willing to do whatever it takes to put in the work and win.”
But for two of the seniors on this year’s squad, they are trying to make the most of the last chance they get to compete in high school and represent Monahans.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to go to state four years in a row,” senior J.T. Pittman said. “It’s an awesome feeling.”
“It’s real exciting,” senior Nick Carnero said. “It’s always a great feeling being able to get back to to the state tournament. We just have to go out there and defend the title.
>> READY TO WORK: Like its district rival, the Andrews boys golf team is making a return trip to the state tournament.
After what the team said was a learning experience last season, the Mustangs are ready to use that to their advantage.
“My biggest fear last year was stepping on that first tee,” junior Kelby Pitkin said. “I don’t think I’ll be quite as nervous this year. I just want to go out and play and let the rest work itself out.”
The Mustangs qualified third out of Region I.
Facing tough competition throughout the season has the team feeling confident it can improve on last year’s fifth place finish.
“We played a really tough schedule all season long,” head coach Jeff Williamson said. “We want to play against somebody as good if not better than us.
“The team performed well after not getting out of district the last couple of years and I think we can handle this a little bit better.
Pitkin, Tucker Williamson, Sebastian Ortiz and Blake Sanford all return from last year’s state qualifiers.
“We weren’t quite as prepared last year but having that experience helps,” said Tucker Williamson. “There aren’t going to be any surprises so we should be more confident.”
The new addition in 2019 is sophomore Carder Pool. After not playing as an alternate last year, he is ready to make a difference for his team as opposed to watching.
“Last year was a little bit different as an alternate,” Pool said. “You just want to be out there playing with the team. But it’s going to be a lot of fun this year and I expect us to do well.”
>> DEBUT: Pool will not be the only Permian Basin golfer making his debut at the state tournament this week.
Seminole freshman Cason Johnson is heading to Kyle as an individual qualifier after shooting an even-par total of 144 over two days at the Region I-4A at Shadow Hills Golf Club in Lubbock.
That included a tournament-best final round of 69 and after waiting for the other scores to come in, Johnson’s nervousness turned into excitement.
“It felt fantastic,” Johnson said. “I put together a great second round and I knew that I might have a chance but I really didn’t know until the end. It felt great to find out.”
Head coach Matt Shain said that he saw the potential that Johnson had but really saw it come together just before the district tournament.
“He just started to flash those signs of being able to compete at that high level,” Shain said. “We’re all very excited for him just being a freshman. It took some big-time guts to see him be able to pull that off.”
Now that the moment has arrived, Johnson is ready to take advantage of the opportunity. He says that his game is in a good place heading into the tournament and is also confident that he can put on a good showing in his first run at state.
“It’s going to be a great experience for me,” he said. “If I play really solid, I can try to medal or even have a chance to win.
“But, I just want to play my best and see what the rest of the field does.”
>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenega