Conway High’s boys used a powerful 1-2-3 punch to drive to the 7A Central title Monday and set themselves up nicely to repeat as state golf champions.
The Wampus Cats, led by Parker Rice, had three of the top four scores in compiling a 296 total to win the conference championship by 59 strokes on the first day of the state championship at Centennial Vallety Country Club. Little Rock Catholic, at 355, finished second to Conway in conference and was the eighth of eight teams to move on to compete for the state title.
The top eight teams and the next eight individuals not on a second-day qualifying team will play in today’s second round. Conway and Catholic were the only teams from the Central Conference to make the second day of the 16-team tourney. First-round scores will count on the second day.
Fayetteville, at 310, and Bryant, at 315, trailed the Wampus Cats in the Overall team standings.
The Cats; Rice, Carson Roberts (73) and Chase Netherton (75) held three of the top individual spots going into the final round. Tanner Bezet came in at 79.
Teams could play five golfers with the top four scores counting for each. Conway’s dominance was illustrated by the Cats’ No. 5 scorer, Austin Smith at 85, would have counted for all but two teams (Fayetteville and Bryant) and would have equaled Bentonville’s No. 4 score.
Rice’s 69 featured an eagle on on the par-4 No. 6.
“I felt very comfortable and confident,” he said. “I was playing on my home course with a home crowd to root me on. I told the team before the tournament that we have played this course a million times and there was no reason not to go out and be comfortable and have fun.”
“It helps to play on your home course, but it can also be a disadvantage because you expect to do really good on your home course,” Roberts said. “That can cause you to go out and try to do some shots you are not supposed to do.”
Players will be teeing off at 9 a.m. Tuesday for the final round.