History makers. Those words can be used to describe the 2019 Wagoner Lady Dogs golf team that captured a 4A State Runner-Up trophy at the 2019 State Golf Championships held May 1-2 at Lake Hefner South in Oklahoma City.
The Lady Dogs shot a 370 on Wednesday to finish tied with Elk City in fifth place. Wagoner was 10 strokes behind both Muldrow and Pauls Valley (3rd) and 13 strokes behind Grove (2nd) after the first 18 holes were played. Hilldale had the lead.
On Thursday, the Lady Dogs shot a season low 353 to overcome all teams but Hilldale. They finished one stroke ahead of Muldrow.
“I told the girls we can do it! Let’s set a goal of 360 tomorrow and see what happens,” Coach James Henson said of his Wednesday encouragement for his team.
The course was swampy on Wednesday, but dried up a bit overnight. Cooler temperatures and a little more wind welcomed the girls back to the golf course for the final 18 holes on Thursday.
Wagoner golfed Thursday’s round with Elk City and Muldrow. Henson said with Grove and Pauls Valley having to play with Hilldale, he thought they may struggle a little under the pressure, and they did.
Hilldale is a perennial powerhouse in 4A golf. Wagoner’s golf coach compared the success of Hilldale’s golf program to the wrestling program at Tuttle, which the Bulldogs know all too well.
The Lady Bulldogs finished the tournament with a two-day score of 723. State Champion Hilldale shot a 615 and third place Muldrow was one shot behind Wagoner at 724.
Henson said it wasn’t until the Pauls Valley score card went up that his dedicated team learned of their runner-up honors.
“We were waiting on the Pauls Valley score because they were the last ones we didn’t know about, and they were 10 shots ahead of us going into Thursday. We ended up getting it by four strokes!” he exclaimed. “I was nervous waiting on that last score to come in and was just shaking — it was unbelievable!
“In my own mind, I was hoping we could finish in the Top 8; but as the season progressed, we got better and better,” Henson noted. “I thought we could finish in the Top 5 (at State). To finish in second place is just unbelievable!”
Individually, Rylie Spaulding (88, 84) finished just out of the medals in 11th place to lead the Lady Bulldogs in scoring. Macy Robertson (91, 84) shot her best score of the year on Thursday, and was followed by Jessica Lord (88, 96), Caitlyn Henson (102, 89 — a personal best) and Brekka Watkins (105, 106).
Henson said he is not certain if a Wagoner girls’ golf team has ever placed in the Top 5 or 6 at State before.
“In fact, no girls’ sports program in the history of Wagoner Schools has finished first or second at State until now,” he added, having conferred with Athletic Director Dale Condict on the possibility.
Shortly after the Lady Dogs accepted their trophy, Henson said the girls remain on cloud nine.
“It’s so exciting, I’m loving it! I just don’t see how you can top this,” he admitted. “It’s unbelievable what the girls have done! I thought next year would be the year we did this ... it’s awesome!”
Henson said while finishing in second place puts a target on the Lady Dogs’ back for next season, it also puts Wagoner in a position to win it all in 2020.
“We will have all 10 of our girls back, and all five starters from the State runner-up team as well. If everyone makes natural progression, we will give it (State title) a shot,” he assured. “The young girls came in and played pretty well. I started two freshmen and a sophomore today, so three of them will be coming back for two more years.”
Henson applauds his Lady Dogs, who do anything he asks of them. He said that’s part of what makes coaching them so much fun.
“As a coach you have to appreciate that,” he concluded.