H-P Sports Editor

While the Palestine golf team wants a chance to defend its state title, the Wildcats know they need to take it one step at a time.

And that next step is at the Class 3A-Region III golf tournament at Brenham Country Club on Wednesday and Thursday. Palestine will tee of at 8 a.m. Wednesday and at 1 p.m. Thursday. The top two teams will qualify for the University Interscholastic League state tournament.

“We want to make it to state, but we need to focus on what is next and that is regionals,” Palestine sophomore Jeremy Lambright said.

Being the defending state champions and having four returning from that team makes Palestine the favorites at the regional tournament but the Wildcat golfers are not taking anything for granted.

“Most people think it is going to be a walk in the park, but we are going to need to play our best,” senior Joseph Totah said. “We know people are chasing us and that is what makes us work harder because we know we have that competition.”

The Palestine golfers along with their head coach feel that if the team can shoot at the regional tournament like they have all year, the chances to get back to the state meet will be high.

“As long as we play steady golf and be consistent we will be fine,” head coach Tommy Allison said. “We have been playing really good golf this year.”

Allison said there is no added pressure with his team being the defending state champions.

“We felt that pressure last year dropping down to 3A,” Allison said. “We had high expectations and we met everyone of them.

“I feel that if they play their game, everything else will take care of itself.”

The Wildcats are the defending Class 3A-Region III champions after winning the tournament last year with a score of 624.

Palestine is coming off a District 21-3A championship where the Wildcats shot a two-day total of 576, the only team to shoot under 600.

“We have been playing real well lately,” senior Steve Herrington said. “But we are not going to take anything for granted. We have to come out at regionals and play well.”

Palestine’s four top golfers finished in the top five at the district tournament. Senior Jacob Taylor won the tournament with a two-day total of 141.

Totah and Lambright both shot a 143 and Herrington shot a 149.

The fifth member of the Palestine team came down to a playoff Friday between Nicholas Varela and Austin Anderson at Brenham Country Club during Palestine’s practice round.

Varela earned the fifth spot in what Allison called a tough decision.

“Those two golfers were so even that the only fair thing to do was have them have a playoff to determine the fifth spot,” Allison said. “Both guys are very deserving.”

Allison said the role of Palestine’s fifth golfer is going to be to stay away from the big numbers.

“I want our fifth golfer to stay around 80,” Allison said. “Their role is not to post a great number but do the very best they can and give us a number that can be an insurance for the team.”

The Wildcats are no stranger to Brenham Country Club. In the last two years, Palestine has played a total of eight rounds there.

Palestine learned last year that if the winds start to blow, the course can be difficult, but that may play into the Wildcats’ favor.

“I think we have an advantage with the wind,” Totah said. “We know we can play in the wind.”

While Allison has not seen all the scores from the other district tournaments, he said some of the top teams at regionals will include Madisonville, Barbers Hill and Hardin Jefferson.

“It is going to be a lot more competitive than last year,” Allison said.

Palestine also will have its “B” team playing at regionals after the “B” team finished second at district.

The Palestine “B” team consists of Anderson, J.C. Johnson, Kyle Woodard, Taylor Carnes and Chris Lee.

“These kids are going to get tremendous experience and should really help our program for the years to come,” Allison said. “They have the ability to put together two really good rounds and if they do, you never know what is going to happen.”

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