GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL GOLF: Lady Mustangs ready for another shot at state glory

It might go without saying but for the Andrews golf teams, qualifying for the state championship is the bare minimum.

Coming home with hardware is where it all counts.

However, for the Lady Mustangs, there’s been one trophy that’s been eluding them for the past four years; the state title.

For the Andrews girls, the last state title triumph came in 2019 and the Lady Mustangs are eager to end that streak when they compete at this year’s championship.

The tournament will take place from May 15-16 at Legends Golf Course in Kingsland.

“It’s exciting,” Andrews girls golf head coach Mark Burgen said. “It’s a big part of our tradition. Some people think it’s a an automatic that Andrews golf is going to make it to state but there’s a lot more to it. We put a lot of hours into it and we’re going to see. We’ve put in a lot of hard work and the girls have deserved all the accolades that they’ve earned so far.”

Over the last four years-with the exception of the canceled 2020 season due to COVID- the Lady Mustangs have finished second (in 2021) and third at last year’s tournament, an accomplishment that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“Andrews is a unique place for golf,” Burgen said. “I’ve been in other places where other golf programs don’t have the tradition that Andrews has or the parent support that Andrews has or the community support that we have. All of those play a big factor in the success that our girls have had. … They work hard, play well and prepare well. It’s a fun thing to be a part of.”

Andrews is coming off another district and regional title.

A few weeks ago, the Lady Mustangs finished with a team score of 617 to clinch the Class 4A Region I championship in Lubbock.

The top three golfers for the Lady Mustangs also finished in the top three, individually.

“Number one, it’s their willingness to be prepared to work each and every day,” Burgen said. “They come here and they’re ready to work. They have a plan. They have a purpose and to be able to meet the goals at the end of the year, you have to take care of the little things and they do a great job of the day-to-day preparations which can sometimes get lost. Sometimes you get bored with it but they push through it and that’s the foundation for our success. They’re willing to work and get better each day.”

The team is led by senior Kyleigh McGowen who won the individual title at regionals with a score of 79-73—152.

“Kyleigh’s been a staple for our program,” Burgen said. “She’s worked hard. She’s had a lot of individual success. I believe she’s won three separate individual titles this year.”

She’s excited for one last go at the high school state championship.

“We’re really excited,” McGowen said. “We’re hoping to bring another collection to our state championship trophies, especially with it being our senior year. It would be good to go out with a bang.”

McGowen will continue her golf career at the next level as she has signed to play at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, N.M., which will be the program’s first year.

“They’re starting a new women’s program, so she’s going to get to be a part of something new over there,” Burgen said. “She’s a big part of our success.”

Zoe Woemmel finished second at regionals, going 79-74—153 and will be a key returning player for next season.

“Zoe’s been a big part of our success,” Burgen said. “This is her first year on varsity. She’s a junior and she looks like a season veteran. She’s shot some great scores for us this year and she’s only going to get better. She’s going to be a big team leader next year.”

Sophomore Emme Darnold took third at regionals with 77-77-154.

“She may have finished third at regionals but she won the district title and she’s had a good run,” Burgen said. “She’s had a good couple of weeks. She’s got a bright future, being only a sophomore.”

Senior Peighton Manning will also be playing in her final high school golf tournament.

She finished fourth on the team at regionals with 81-77-158.

Burgen says Manning has also been a big leader on this year’s team.

“A lot of the girls follow her and respect her,” Burgen said. “She just leads by example. She’s a big part of this season’s success. She’s had a great year. Without our two seniors and their leadership, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Manning is also eager for this year’s championship and hopeful that she and her teammates can bring home a title.

“We’re really excited,” Manning said. “We talk about it every day. Just preparing for the state tournament is exciting in itself. Once we get there, it’ll be great.”

With the run of success that Andrews has had this season, it’s hard to find a weakness on the team but Burgen says there’s plenty of things for his girls to work on as they prepare for state.

“There’s something every day that we need to work on,” Burgen said. “The short game, our precision on chipping and putting, we need to make sure that we get focused on that. That’s never perfect. That’s where a golfer tends to lose the most strokes. That’s something we work on a regular basis and we’ll make it a focal point of our preparation for state.”

Burgen knows just how sweet a championship would be for this group of players.

“None of these girls have won a state title,” Burgen said. “It would make my heart warm if our seniors were to be able to finish their high school careers with a gold medal at state.”

Regardless of what happens, McGowen knows it’ll be bittersweet, knowing this will be the last high school tournament for her and Manning.

“It’s sad,” McGowen said. “I cried the other day because this is my last state tournament with my team but I know that they’re going to do well and I’m going to do well.”