May 6, 2009
CALEDONIA -- The Caledonia High School boys golf team is ahead of schedule.
That''s fine with coach Bradley Tate and his players because their success this season has extended their season to the State Tournament.
Zac Taylor will lead district champion Caledonia next week when it plays at the Class 4A state tournament May 12-13 at River Birch Country Club in Amory.
The team will use Monday as a practice round to familiarize itself with the course. Play in the 16-team event begins at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
"Everybody is hitting their stride," Tate said. "I did not expect to win at districts. I expected to have a good year and for them to practice and to get better. Our team is super young. We have a senior and a junior and ninth-, and eighth-, and seventh-graders. They came through."
Caledonia beat Saltillo by six strokes to capture the district title to secure the bid to the state tournament.
Taylor, a junior, has paced the Confederates with five medalist honors this season.
"We were a good team this year," Taylor said. "We had a couple of matches when we had some OK scores, but we really should have done a lot better."
Taylor said his individual goal was to make the state tournament. He said it is more satisfying that the entire team is going.
"I would like to win it for everybody instead of myself," Taylor said. "Evan has went from shooting OK scores to getting a medalist when he shot a 38. Colt also has made strides, going from the 90s to the high 80s. Trent is hanging in there.
I think everybody has made good progress."
Taylor said he had a few matches he would like to forget, but, for the most part, he feels this season has been a success. His best round is a 1-under-par 35 at Aberdeen Country Club.
"If we just play our game (at the state tournament) I think e have a shot to win," Taylor said. "Like coach Tate said, he didn''t expect us to make it this far anyway, so you never know what is going to happen. You just have to keep trying."
Senior Zack Bailey has had an up-and-down year, but he hopes to use the state tournament as a second chance to get his scores back to where he feels they should be.
"Everybody has gotten better throughout the year," said Bailey, who didn''t count himself in that group. "They''re getting better quick. They''re doing a good job, and a lot of them practice more than they are supposed to.
"To play bad throughout the whole season and to have your team help you come through and get to states it pretty cool."
Bailey said his average is about 80. He said he hasn''t put in the practice time to get his scores into the 70s where he feels they should be. He said his scoring average was about 37 as a sophomore. It has went up each of the past two years.
Colt Wallace (87), Evan McElrath, and Trent Humber also played well to help the Confederates advance to the state tournament.
Two years ago, led by current East Mississippi Community College standout Hal Larkin, Caledonia had four seniors and a freshman. That team shot even par or under every match. Tate expected this year''s team to get to that level but not this season.
"I will have the same expectations next year," Tate said. "I am just happy to be going to the state tournament. The fact that we''re go to states means that they''re working."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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