Benton sophomore Jacob Wyatt normally doesn’t like knowing how his teammates are doing during golf tournaments.
Tuesday, with Shane Cram, Sam Soley, Wyatt, and Corbin Cantrell in consecutive groups in the final round of the LHSAA Division II state championship, that was impossible.
With the Tigers all playing well, it worked out for Wyatt, who matched his 77 from Monday to help Benton win the team championship for back-to-back titles.
“I would rather not know, because if you know someone is struggling it puts a lot of pressure on you to make it up,” Wyatt said. “But today, it actually eased the pressure, because everyone was playing well. We’ve been working hard all year, and it feels good to win. We had to make sure we weren’t cocky. People would say that we were going to win it again, but we couldn’t let that get in our heads.”
Cantrell, who finished Monday with a 5-over 76, was one of two players under par Tuesday and led the way for Benton.
“It feels great to win back-to-back state championships,” said Cantrell, who shot a 1-under 70 to finish second overall in the individual standings to No. 1 Drew Gonzales from St. Thomas More. “We worked pretty hard last year, but to come out again this year and play as strong as we did is pretty great.”
Gonzales shot a 69 Tuesday to win the Division II individual championship by four strokes.
Parkview Baptist entered the final round just two strokes behind the Tigers, and St. Thomas More was five shots back, but neither could keep up with Benton and tied for second, 11 strokes behind the Tigers’ combined score of 613.
“It’s a lot of fun, especially because everyone shot as good or better (Tuesday) than (Monday),” Benton coach Tim Cram said. “That 301 today is the lowest Benton has ever shot at a state championship. It was impressive to watch them take care of the pressure and handle it. They took this season seriously and got after it.”
The Tigers will only lose one senior, Soley, who finished his high school career with two birdies in his final four holes (on 15 and 17) to shoot a 74.
“It’s a bittersweet thing, and I’m glad it went well,” said Soley, who is committed to play golf at William Carey University next year. “The main thing out here is hitting greens and making putts. It’s not the hardest course, but it puts pressure on you with these greens and nothing really holding. You just have to use that to you advantage.”
Shane Cram shot an 80 Tuesday. North DeSoto’s Matt Ramsey finished in seventh overall with a two-day score of 154. Ruston’s Mitchell Haddox tied with Parkview Baptist’s Daniel Schroeder in third overall with 148 two-day totals.
Cedar Creek won the Division IV state championship easily, 33 strokes ahead of second-place Ascension Episcopal, for the school’s fifth straight title and seventh in the last eight years.
“These boys are really focused, and they worked hard all year long,” Cedar Creek coach Katie Eagles said. “This group of guys has been playing together for quite some time. These kids go and play golf in the summer, and it’s paid off for them to be able to come out and win championships.”
Cedar Creek’s Jordan Cole won the individual Division IV title by six strokes with a two-day score of 153.
“I think this team handled expectations very well,” Eagles said. “We finished day one up 19 strokes and then came out and extended it even more. We told them to play relaxed and go out and enjoy this.”