E.A. Sports Today

White Plains wins it for Keaten

[corner-ad id=2]Wildcats complete mission to win title for teammate, Thompson calls it ‘a day to remember for a long time.’

White Plains senior Raegan Thompson gives a big hug to assistant coach Brock Harrell after finishing her round in the state golf championship Tuesday.

White Plains senior Raegan Thompson gives a big hug to assistant coach Brock Harrell after finishing her round in the state golf championship Tuesday.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

MOBILE — The White Plains girls golf team captured the first state championship in its school’s history Tuesday when it won the girls 4A-5A championship at Magnolia Grove.

The Wildcats, who didn’t even exist as a program four years ago and were playing in the finals for the first time, shot a final round 241 on the Crossings Course for a two-day total 470 and a 17-shot margin over county rival Alexandria.

But to say they simply won a state title would not do the feat justice.

In winning they fulfilled a promise of bringing home the title for Keaten Beam, the 16-year-old sophomore on the girls team who was killed in a car crash three weeks ago.

When the round was completed, the players cried and hugged as the emotions of a hard month came pouring out.

“We wanted to win it before Keaten passed away, but when we had to go through all that, it really brought us a lot closer so we decided we were going to win it for her,” said Raegan Thompson, the team’s only senior. “A couple days before her wreck she was really pumped up about going with us (to the state championship) and be a part of all this.

“She may not be here, but she’s here. It’s really a good feeling to do this. That’s the whole reason we wanted to do this. Keaten was our ‘why’ — why we get up and go practice, why we always give 100 percent. Today when we were tired, not feeling good, I know I was thinking about them, I was thinking about Keaten.

“This will be a day to remember for a long time. We’ll never forget it.”

The Wildcats entered the final round with a nine-shot lead over Alexandria and were never really threatened as all four of their players played their county counterparts relatively even through the front nine.

They wound up counting a 78 from No. 3 Morgan Prickett, an 80 from Layne Dyar and an 83 from Thompson, who was informed in the scorers tent she had won a $2,000 Alabama Golf Association women’s scholarship that will help her attend and play at Montevallo.

Alexandria, meanwhile, shot 249 in the final round. The Valley Cubs counted an 82 from defending co-champion Jordan Gregoria, an 82 from Morgan Mayfield and an 87 from No. 4 Abby Stevens.

Dyar, the Calhoun County and substate champion, finished third individually. Gregoria finished tied for fourth. Prickett, who played her best golf in the final two tournaments of the year, finished tied for sixth.

“Be phenomenal or be forgotten; it was the quote we’ve said from the first practice of the year,” Wildcats coach Marcus Harrell said. “For us phenomenal was only going to be a state championship.

“You’re not phenomenal unless you’re remembered. These girls we coached today, they’re going to leave here phenomenal because they’ll be remembered as state champions.

“We’ve preached for three years you have to have a reason why you do the things you do. Why did we work so hard? We were going to do everything it took to make sure that we won that for Keaten. That’s what drove us to do the things that we did.”

Much of the gallery was following the No. 1 pairing of Dyar and Gregoria. The Alexandria senior shaved two shots off the Wildcats’ overall lead at No. 5, but Dyar recovered them both on the next hole with a birdie-bogey exchange.

White Plains then stretched its lead on the back nine after Harrell told each of his players to quit worrying about who they were playing and just play the course and their own game. The Wildcats’ three counters played the final six holes in a collective 6-over-par.

“We fought the entire time,” Dyar said. “I think we were in awe at first (of winning) and then it finally hit us and I think we all shed tears. We all cried together in the huddle, but tears of joy.

“If Keaten were here she’d be like, ‘We did it cuz.’ That’s what she’d say. That’s exactly what she’d say.”

“When coach (Justin) Mallicoat said you won a state championship, all I could think about was Keaten,” Prickett said. “She had wanted it so bad. We cried and we were sad, but this was a happy cry. We did it all for her and we know she’s proud of us.”

“I’ve never been more proud of a group of individuals in my life as athletes but also as people, because they fought for what they believed,” assistant coach Brock Harrell said. “They did this for somebody. Absolutely selfless.”

It was the sixth round White Plains and Alexandria have battled it out this season. The Wildcats beat the Cubs by three shots at Chesley Oaks, 15 at the substate (behind Dyar’s 68) and by nine Monday. Alexandria won by seven at the Calhoun County Championship and by four in the sectional.

“These girls, especially these seniors, have been with me a long time and even though they didn’t win a state championship they set the bar high for the competition to beat them,” Cubs coach Scott Ginn said. “That was a great team that beat them, and that team worked, sacrificed time and dedicated themselves to getting better. The level of golf in girls, especially in our county, has been raised tremendously due to these two teams competing and battling.”

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