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May 7, 2013

PREP GOLF: Cold Springs, Cullman earn state tourney berths

(Continued)

Class 5A

Lee Mattox stood with his teammates and a restless group of Cullman parents, anxiously awaiting his team’s state fate as Drake penned the scores of the final three 5A golfers on the far-right window panes of the TP clubhouse.

Before the ink could even dry, one Bearcat mom whipped out her cell phone and used the calculator to add up the totals for Russellville, Hartselle and Athens.

With a 323, Russellville had clinched the sub-state championship. With a 331, Hartselle had secured runner-up status. And with a 342, Athens was left on the outside looking in — because Cullman had already posted a 335, just enough to move on as a unit with a third-place result.

Mattox first relayed the news to his dad, then walked across the room to tell a few of Cold Springs’ golfers before finally letting out a huge sigh of relief right in the middle of the clubhouse floor.

“I feel an incredible amount of joy,” said Mattox, who played up from his No. 3 position to lead the Bearcats with an 80. “I can’t explain how happy I am right now, because I haven’t played good all year, and we really haven’t gotten it together, just to get the chance to go to state and maybe prove it at the end.”

While Rice gladly erased Monday’s scorecard, Mattox wouldn’t have minded picking up where he left off when the rain came pouring down. He had made the turn at even par and was clearly on pace to turn in an even better round than he did on Tuesday.

None of that mattered to Mattox when all was said and done. Not even a little bit.

“Personally, it wasn’t that great for me,” he said of having to start the tournament all over. “But I think it helped out some of my teammates, so it’s all for the best.”

Colby Sandlin and Sylas Elliott were hot on Mattox’s toes with rounds of 81 and 82, respectively. Conner Stevens contributed a 92, while Garrett Crider brought up the rear with a 105.

“They’ve worked hard all year,” Black and Gold coach Ches Harris said. “To see that hard work start to pay off, I’m very proud of them.”

Cold Springs, Cullman, Good Hope’s Eli Marty and Holly Pond’s Colby Adams will all head to Muscle Shoals next Monday and Tuesday for their respective state tournaments. After persevering to survive a treacherous TP golf course, Harris feels the Bearcats will be better prepared for whatever The Shoals throws their way.

“This golf course was set up with the exact same pin placements for the mini-tour event last summer,” the coach said of TP. “The kids probably won’t see a golf course too much more difficult.”

% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at robk@cullmantimes.com.

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