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  • Greg Wille

HORSEPOWER ON THE COURSE: In Lake Belton's first year, Broncos set to play 4A state golf tournament


With Lake Belton High School in its first year of existence, all of its sports teams have established the standards for all future Broncos squads to follow.

And in the case of Lake Belton's boys golf program, it will be quite a high standard to chase in the years to come.

After winning the District 19-4A championship and finishing in second place in Region III, the Broncos will compete in their first state tournament when the University Interscholastic League 4A event begins Monday with the first round at Plum Creek Golf Course in Kyle. The final round is scheduled for Tuesday.

It's a very young team for Lake Belton, which opened its doors last August with only sophomores and freshmen. Representing the Broncos of head coach David Sims at state are 19-4A champion Chandler Cooke, runner-up Chase Passentino-Slone, Colby Connor, James Bond and Hayden Nix. All are sophomore except for Bond, a freshman.

Lake Belton's Monday tee times at state run begin at 9:10 a.m. and run through 9:50. The Broncos are paired with players from Canyon and Melissa.

Also in the 12-team, 72-player field for the 4A state tournament is Gatesville medalist Evan Washburn, who tees off at 9 a.m. Monday.

In its inaugural district tournament, Lake Belton shot a first-round 335 total at Mill Creek in Salado and then a final-round 333 total March 31 at Legends Golf Course in Kingsland. The Broncos' 36-hole total of 668 was 73 strokes better than district runner-up Salado.

Cooke fired rounds of 79 and 77 to win the individual district championship, 12 shots ahead of 19-4A runner-up Passentino-Slone (80-88) and 13 ahead of Connor (82-87).

That district-winning performance advanced Lake Belton to the Region III tournament April 19-20 at Raven Nest Golf Club in Huntsville. The Broncos posted a two-round total of 698 for second place, 38 strokes behind regional champion Orange Little Cypress-Mauriceville, whose Bears competed in the 2019 state tournament before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 state tournament.

Little Cypress-Mauriceville senior Jack Burke, the 4A state champion in 2019, won the regional championship by 17 strokes by shooting a 1-over 141 total.

Connor stepped forward for Lake Belton with an outstanding two rounds of golf at regionals, shooting 79-81 – his two lowest rounds this season – to lead Lake Belton and place fifth overall. Cooke bounced back from a first-round 91 to fire a final-round 77 – capped by making a 30-foot eagle putt – to take eighth place.

Passentino-Slone contributed rounds of 88 and 91, Bond added two sub-100 rounds and Nix completed the Broncos' scorecard.

On the girls' side, Tiffany Lange gave Lake Belton's golf program a big first-year highlight by advancing as a medalist to the 4A state tournament at Plum Creek. She shot an 18-hole 82 and a nine-hole 42 to finish tied for 23rd place with a 124 total in a tournament that had to be shortened to 27 holes because of weather.

The Lampasas girls squad earned a third-place finish, behind champion Argyle and runner-up Andrews.

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