The Ada High boys golf team used a dramatic finish in the final round to vault from fifth place to second place at the 2017 Class 4A State Tournament Tuesday at the Lake Hefner North Golf Course.
After the first two rounds on Monday, the Cougars found themselves in fifth place with a score of 621 and were 18 strokes out of second place. Poteau was second at 603, followed by Elk City at 606 and Newcastle at 620.
There was no catching eventual champ and preseason favorite Heritage Hall after the first two rounds. The Chargers had a two-day score of 571 and finished atop the leaderboard with an overall score of 867.
Ada shot a tournament-best 291 in round three, five strokes better than even the champion Chargers.
“I was so proud of the way the kids performed over both days, but especially the way they came out and played on Tuesday during round three,” said Ada head coach Robbie Powell. “They could have easily said fifth place is pretty good, but they didn’t. They told me they wanted to go get at least a top-three finish, and they did one better than that.”
Ada’s story gets better. On the last hole of the day, the Cougars collectively turned in a -6. Senior Sam Brown eagled the hole, and the rest of the squad made birdie putts.
“It was unbelievable. And we needed every stroke to catch Poteau. I’ve seen an eagle or two, but I don’t think I’ve seen kids make just one birdie after another like that,” Powell said. “And we needed every one to catch Poteau.”
Ada ended with a three-day total of 912, followed by the Pirates in third at 913, Elk City fourth at 921, Elgin fifth at 941 and Newcastle sixth at 942.
The Cougars proved on the final day they could hang with the best, even the champs.
“Heritage Hall is an outstanding team, and they proved it by winning a championship, but my kids showed they are pretty good too by shooting the low final round and moving from fifth place to second in that final round. It takes some really great play to make up 18 shots in one round of golf,” Powell said.
“I had been trying to get them to believe we could compete with Heritage Hall all year long, and they just couldn’t get over that mental hurdle until yesterday,” he continued. “We did not beat them for the championship, but we did beat them in the final round, which our guys were all excited about.”
Reed Townsend, another Ada senior, capped off a strong season on Tuesday with a career-low 71. He finished with a three-day total of 72-79-71—222, good enough for 11th place in the medalist standings. Dalton Daniel of Newcastle was the Class 4A state champion with a 200, followed by Heritage Hall’s William McDonald at 211 and Checotah’s Brice Terry and Cascia Hall’s Matt Braley with 212 totals.
“Reed Townsend was outstanding all three rounds but saved an under-par round of 71 for the last day, which was great,” Powell said.
Senior Ben Pruitt fought through back pain and shot a 74-81-73—228.
“Ben showed that he is a tough and determined young man. After playing 36 holes on Monday at our regional, he couldn’t even hit a putt until Thursday, so I thought there was no way he would even be able to try to play the third round this week,” Powell said. “But he fought through a great deal of pain and not only played the third round but shot a 1-over par 73, which was unbelievable.”
Pruitt finished 21st in the individual standings.
Matthew Brown was two strokes behind Pruitt with a 230.
“Matthew Brown played more like a senior than a sophomore, shooting his low round of 75 in round one and then doing it again in the last round,” Powell said.
Sam Brown had a rough first round (89), before bouncing back with scores of 79 and 72 for a 240 total.
“Sam Brown fought back after a very disappointing first round to shoot an even-par round of 72 during the last round, which was capped off with his eagle,” Powell said.
Sophomore Ryan Hagar shot an overall score of 247 to round out the Ada scoring.
“Ryan Hagar shot his career low round in round one with an 82 and then bettered that by two when he shot 80 in round two,” Powell said. “It’s really great when they all contribute during a tournament, and they all had at least one score count.”
Powell said it was a good sendoff for seniors Sam Brown, Townsend and Pruitt.
“?It was a very exciting day for all of the kids, their families and especially their coach. They really made me proud,” he said.
“I will be losing three seniors that have been really solid performers since they were freshmen,” Powell continued. “Ben, Reed, and Sam have been a joy to coach, and I expect all of them to go on and be very successful adults. I will miss them very much."