The Benton Tigers rolled to their fifth straight Division II state golf championship on Thursday.
The Tigers shot a second-round 4-over-par 292 at the Par-72 Wetlands in Lafayette to go with a first-round 294 for a two-day total of 6-over 586.
E.D. White, which shot a 296 in the second round, finished second at 600, 14 strokes behind the Tigers.
“We played well today,” Benton coach Tim Cram said. “We played better today than yesterday which is unusual with everybody being kind of tired.”
He said his players were a determined group.
“They showed a lot of grit. We actually tied the score we had last year, which is phenomenal. They fought the whole time. I’m very proud of them.”
Benton won another state title despite losing three seniors — Cram’s son Shane, Jacob Wyatt and Corbin Cantrell — who played big roles in the first four. Wyatt helped Louisiana Tech win the Conference USA title this season.
“Five in a row is pretty sweet,” Cram said. “We challenged the juniors and sophomores. They have a lot to try to match.”
Benton sophomore Hayden White shot a 5-under 67 Thursday to go with a first-round 69. He and first-round leader Kristofer Kerr tied for first at 8 under.
After a marathon seven-hole playoff, White and Kerr were still tied. Both players made a series of pars and birdied a par 5.
With darkness approaching, officials consulted with the coaches and players and everyone agreed to call it a tie.
“Everybody felt like both deserved to be champion,” Cram said. “That was probably one of the best rounds of golf I’ve ever seen.”
White, Kerr and third-place finisher Nick Arcement of E.D. White, who finished two strokes back at 6 under, shot a combined 22 under for the tournament.
Benton’s David Cole, the 2014 individual medalist, and Colton Ryan finished tied for sixth at 3 over. Cole shot a second-round 75 and Ryan a 73.
Cole, the lone senior on the team, is leaving with four state titles to his credit.
Before the tournament, Cram cited the importance of the performance of the Nos. 4 and 5 golfers. The low four scores in each round are used to determine the team score.
Phil Tran stepped up, shooting a second-round 77 and finishing 19th at 5 over.
“Phil Tran finally got a chance to step in there and he shot a 78 and 77 on back-to-back days,” Cram said.
Alex Acurio is also a member of Benton’s state championship team.
Although his scores didn’t figure in the team scoring, Acurio improved nine shots over his first-round score with an 80.
White got off to a fantastic start with six birdies on the front nine. His only bogey of the day was at the par-3 No. 4. He had one birdie on the back nine.
At one point on the back nine, White had a two-stroke lead, but Kerr birdied 14 and 15 to get even. White barely missed a birdie putt on No. 18 to win it.
“Hayden left one of the edge to win it,” Cram said. “It almost fell in. It was right there.”
Airline finished sixth in the Division I state tournament at Farm D’Allie in Carencro. The Vikings shot a second-round 315 for a two-day total of 637. Byrd won its third straight title with a 582. Carter Toms, son of former Airline star David Toms, was the individual medalist. He shot a second-round 4-under 68 and finished 9 under, 9 strokes ahead of teammate Phillip Barbaree.
Airline’s Daniel Dial rebounded from a first-round 84 with a 75 Thursday and led the Vikings at 15 over. Freshman Carter Jurkovich carded a second consecutive 80 and finished one stroke behind Dial. He was followed by Jacob Hill (81-81—162),Jacob Guest (83-79—162) and Caden Maxell (78-85—165).
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org