DHS golfer finishes 5th at state tourney

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 30, 2005

Another year of improvement for the Demopolis golf team was capped off recently by one of the team’s youngest players finishing fifth place in the state 4A tournament.

Freshman John Parden shot a 197 over two rounds in the state tourney, held May 9 and 10 at the Grand National in Opelika. While far from Parden’s personal best, the score was still good enough for fifth in the 4A field.

DHS golf coach Michael Black says that Parden’s performance is just one more example of the strides the program has taken over the past few seasons.

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“I’ve been the coach for four years now,” he says, “and we’ve been able to improve every year.”

In head-to-head matches, the DHS team wrapped up the year with a solid 14-3 mark.

“We lost to Thomasville, once to Bibb County, and won the rest,” says Black. “We did real well. I think we’ve accomplished a lot…the team finished strong.”

The only real disappointment of the season, Black says, was the team’s narrow failure to qualify for the state championship tournament.

“We finished third as a team at sectional, which was a little disappointing since the top two go to the state competition,” he said. “If we’d shot the way we normally shoot, we’d have finished first.”

Black said that while the result was somewhat frustrating, it was also part of golf.

“That’s expected. Some of them are going to be down a bit sometimes,” he says.

In most cases, Black says, the team would rally around seniors Bryan Padilla and Christopher Hill to pull out a win even if one team member was having an off-day.

“Our senior leadership with Chris and Brian paid off well. It really has made a difference,” he says. “Usually if one person’s struggling, the rest of the team would carry us.”

If there was a bright spot from sectionals, it was the play of Parden. Despite the team disappointment, Parden says he’ll remember the tournament as his personal season highlight.

“I shot good on the front nine,” Parden says. “I set a goal to go to state and that’s what I did.”

Despite his fifth-place finish at the state tournament, Parden says he’s not exactly proud of his performance there.

“Not really,” he says. “I didn’t think I played very good. I’m just going to try to go back next year and do a lot better.”

Parden says that, following the loss of Padilla and Hill, he’s somewhat unsure about the 2006 season. But the return of players like Parden and the continued increase in interest from younger players that have Black optimistic.

“We plan on continuing to improve,” he says. “I’ve got a lot of kids that want to play next year, and we will have John back and playing for us again.”