With the state individual 7A golf title wrapped up, Conway’s Parker Rice got strokes of reality and humility when he finished the 18th hole at Centennial Valley Country Club.
“I was just trying to finish with par and I looked at the scoreboard and said, ‘Wow, they don’t need my 75.’”
Rice, powered by a first-round 69, earned medalist honors in the 36-hole event with a 144, had the fifth-best score on the Wampus Cat team in Tuesday’s final round. Only four scores counted.
It demonstrated the balance the Wampus Cats had in winning their second straight state title, this time comfortably by 31 strokes over Fayetteville. The Conway golfers combined for a two-day total of 590. Fayetteville was second at 621, followed by Bryant at 624.
Rice’s 144 qualified him for the state Overall at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Little Rock on Thursday, Oct. 11. Carson Roberts, who was runner-up to Rice at 75-73-146, also qualified for the Overall along with Trevor Barton of Rogers at 148, who won a playoff with Netherton for the final spot.
The Wampus Cats’ scores for the second day were: Roberts and Chase Netherton, 73; Tanner Bezet and Lincoln Hill, 74; and Rice, 75.
Netherton (148) and Bezet (153) earned all-state honors along with Rice and Roberts.
“What a luxury to have — being able to throw out the state champion’s score on the final day. That pretty much sums it up,” said coach Janet Taylor, who completed a double within seven days after leading the Lady Cats to a state title last week. “We have six guys who can go low any given day. They take care of each other.”
“Any one of the top five we put out there can be the No. 1 golfer in a tournament any given week,” said Rice. “Our No. 5 guy in every tournament could go in the No. 1 spot easily. We push each other. We make each good. We make each other great ...
“I struggled a little today, made some bogeys. Everybody started watching me the last few holes and I could feel my blood pressure going up a little bit.”
“Every one of our top six is close,” said Roberts. “To win a championship and not even using a state champion’s score? It’s great,” said Roberts. Every one of us can win at any time. It was the whole team.”
Among the top six for Conway, Austin Smith played in Monday’s first round. Lincoln Hill, the only member of the top six who is not a senior, replaced him for the second round.
It’s the sixth state title for the Wampus Cat boys, who won in 1978, 1982, 2002, 2008 and last year. Taylor coached the team to four of those titles. The Lady Cats won their first state title last week.
“To win girls, then go back-to-back in boys is phenomenal,” Taylor said. “But it takes a village to do this — our parents, the folks at the country clubs and the volunteers and all the JV kids rooting us on.”
“I know my dad (Troy Rice) was a big part of this,” said Parker. “He helped me a lot and he was out here early every day helping out with the other folks. He has had a big influence and helped me a lot.”
Twenty-nine players are on the combined boys and girls rosters for Conway.
“Our guys came out and played solid golf for two days,” said Taylor. “They were very poised, but that’s typical of how this group has been all season.”