SAN ANTONIO, Texas - For the first time since 2016, both the Johnson Jaguars boys and girls golf teams have advanced to the UIL State Tournament. Both squads finished third overall at the regional championships this past week to secure their berths.
"It's the best thing that could happen for the season," said senior John Keefer. "We're taking this team -- this family -- to state. I'm really proud of them and excited."
"The progress we've gone through this year to get to state has been really rewarding," said freshman Stevie Albright. "It was great to be around the team for the first time and experience events with them."
"It means a lot," echoed senior Garrett Martin. "I think it's been four or five times now that we've made it to state as both boys and girls teams. It makes me proud to be called a Johnson Jaguar and use that bag at every tournament."
This marks the ninth straight season that Johnson has been represented either individually or as a team at the state level. The girls are making their first appearance at state in four seasons, and that experience has helped senior Jordan Wray prepare mentally for this year's trip.
"Leading up to state my freshman year, I was super nervous," Wray said. "I felt like I had a lot of expectations to do well. Now that I have more experience with the game, I feel a whole lot more comfortable. I know that I won't be as nervous. I can just go in, relax and have fun for my last tournament."
Meanwhile, the boys team has advanced to state for the third time in the last four seasons. Martin and Keefer - both Division I recruits - have established themselves as the bedrock of the team, and their veteran leadership will go a long way toward pacing the Jaguars' performance.
"We've gotten prepared, we've seen the field multiple times, and going into this tournament, we're playing really well," explained Keefer. "I expect pretty high things from our team, but at the same time, we've got to go in humble and be as methodical as possible. Knowing it's my last season, I just have to take every moment in. I've got to relish everything, and I'll do my best."
"Spending this year with these guys has been one of the funnest experiences of all my four years here at Johnson," said Martin. "I'm really looking forward to this last ride with the guys. It's going to be sweet, it's going to be fun -- emotional at times -- but it's going to be a lot of fun."
Past experience will come in handy on the course at the Legacy Hills Golf Club in Georgetown, and the majority of the Jaguars have played on those grounds before.
"It's a shorter, tighter course that demands a lot of different shots," said Martin. "You've got to be able to hit shots you wouldn't ordinarily hit. You have to be really good with the wedges around the greens, especially putting out there. Putting is hard -- always seems like people don't make a lot of putts out there. If we get the short game dialed in, I think we'll have a really good chance."
The Johnson girls team will open UIL State Tournament play in Georgetown on Monday, May 13. They will tee off on the 10th hole at 8 a.m. alongside Humble Kingwood and McKinney Boyd. The boys will travel to Georgetown the following week on Monday, May 20.
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