ROCKWALL — After two long seasons, the 2017-2018 campaign officially ended for the Prosper High School golf teams. Both the boys and the girls teams traveled to the Rockwall Golf and Athletic Club on April 23-27 to compete in the 2018 Region 2-5A Golf Championship, stacking up with some of the best talent in the area.
“We are very excited about the continued success of both the boys and girls programs. Both have plenty of young players which we know have gained valuable experience this year which will carry them into 6A next year and ensure our competitiveness,” Athletic Director Valerie Little said. “On the girls side, we have some young talent who will continue the winning ways of Prosper golf, including Haili Moore, who won the 14-5A District tournament and also won a two hole playoff at regionals to qualify for the UIL 5A State golf tournament! We have no doubt we will be able to compete at the next level with the successes we have had at this one.”
The boys took to the course first, competing with teams such as Waxahachie, Highland Park and Granbury, along with district foe and familiar competitor Lake Dallas. After two long days of golf, the Eagles rallied to 6th place out of the 16 teams at the tournament.
The Eagles finished with a two-day score of 629, which was 51 strokes behind the winners of the tournament, Highland Park (578).
Junior Marco Punzo led the team at the tournament, finishing in the top 25 with the second-best score on day one with a 78. He wrapped up his regional performance and junior career with a 76, bringing his two-day score to 154. Senior Cole Lantz also shot a 78 on day one, finishing the tournament with a 159 overall in his final tournament as an Eagle.
“Cole Lantz has been a four year player on Varsity I, so the experience and leadership that he brings to the team will be greatly missed,” head boys coach Cody Vanderford said. “Josh Knight has been a great example to our younger kids of hard work paying off as he has dropped his scoring average tremendously over the past three years to earn a spot in the top five as a senior. And while Jake Hughes just came to us this year, he has been a great influence on our underclassmen.”
Sophomore Jacob Strong had the second-best score for the Eagles, shooting a 157. Josh Knight and junior Cameron Merryman both finished with 160.
Rounding out the boys team was junior medalist Drew Thompson, who shot a 174 over the two-day course.
The Eagles’ trip to the 2018 regional tournament was the fourth consecutive year they have done so. They have been District 14-5A Champions four years in a row.
“To win a 4th consecutive district championship is a great accomplishment, and while we were short of our goal of going to state, I’m proud of the way our guys fought back day two of the regional tournament,” Vanderford said. “We’ll need that kind of determination next year in 6A.”
Following the boys, the Lady Eagles continued their impressive season at the regional tournament, take home a 5th finished to the two-day competition. Prosper represented District 14-5A, accompanied by The Colony (medalist) and Lake Dallas.
Battling with the best competitors in the area, freshman Haili Moore Moore recovered from a slow start on day one to earn a spot in the state tournament after trudging through an 18-hole playoff. In order to advance, an athlete must finish in the top ten.
“In a sudden-death playoff, the players compete until one wins, so Haili and the medalist from Frisco Heritage started on hole number 9,” head girls coach Elizabeth Hamilton said. “They both pared the hole, so then they went to 18. Haili won with a par after her opponent missed her par putt from about four feet. To say that it was intense is a massive understatement. The first thing she said to the team was ‘I can finally breathe!’”
Moore’s state appearance marks the 10th consecutive year Prosper High has been represented at state.
“The girls made a huge jump after last year’s 10th place finish, and while the boys’ 6th place finish this year was lower than last year’s 4th, our scoring was relatively similar. The field was very tough this year with all three teams that advanced on the boys side shooting under 600,” Hamilton said.
Other notable performances in Rockwall included sophomore Emily Nystrom, who earned a two-day 179 that landed her second place among the Lady Eagles. Junior Victoria Buelow finished just below 200, shooting a 100 and 93 over the two-day period, while freshman Ally Schnagl’s 210 performance was the first of hopefully many appearances at regionals.
Additionally, senior Caroline Weatherly closed out her career as a Lady Eagle after shooting a 203.
“Caroline, Cassidy [McAlpine] and Carlee [Tinsley] all came to golf from other sports last year, and without them, we would not have had enough players to compete as a team, much less keep our regional tournament appearance tradition alive,” Hamilton said about losing her seniors. “This year, they have all provided great guidance to a very young program, and their leadership will be greatly missed.”
Back in March, the Lady Eagles were crowned the 2018 District 14-5A Champions.
The future is bright for the program, who will be moving up to 6A next year.
“It’s exciting to have a group of young kids passionate about golf, so the competition for us within the program has helped tremendously,” Hamilton said. “On both teams, the separation between our 3 spot and 8 spot is a matter of less than two to three strokes on average, so it’s made us all work harder and score better, which is critical to shooting numbers that will make us successful in 6A. We are up for the challenge.”