Liberty golfers look past goal to fun


Setting goals is one thing; reaching them is another.

When the Liberty golf team set a goal of qualifying for the state championship in its second year of existence, it may have seemed a bit much to ask.

The Lions, under coach Cliff Trone, spent most of last season learning the fundamentals of the game and adjusting to the pressures of match play.

With last week's Class 1A/2A District V title win, the Lions are looking to have some fun when they make their first appearance at the state championships Oct. 21-22 at the University of Maryland.

"I thought we'd have a pretty good year, and we set a goal that we'd like to go to states. We kept working, working and working, and it all became a reality," Trone said.

"We've accomplished so much already in two years that whatever happens in states is not going to affect us."

All five of the Lions regulars have improved to help the team to the next level.

When top golfer Jason Burt struggled down the stretch in the district championships, No. 5 golfer Andy Thompson pulled the Lions through with a 93. Burt and second-seeded Jeremy Allen finished with rounds of 89; Keith Bowen fired a 92 and Brian Lingle had a 100. The top four scores count, and the Lions finished three shots better than runner-up Hammond.

"Last year, it was getting the boys used to match play and teaching them the fundamentals of the golf swing," Trone said.

"They really worked hard on their games over the summer, and they are playing with a lot more confidence. It just comes with time, and now we're seeing the results of all the practice."

The Lions finished the season with a 12-4 record, and Trone has them working hard on their short games and driving in preparation for states. Judging by the scores he saw from other district results, he thinks his squad has a good chance of making some noise at College Park.

"We're in another world right now. We were a bit tight and tense at regionals. Now, we're just looking forward to being there [at states] and plan to go out and have some fun," he said.

Burt, a senior, has been the team's top golfer all season.

"Jason has responded very well. He knew he was going to be at No. 1 and felt a lot more pressure," Trone said.

"As the team started playing better and better, it put less pressure on him and he's been very steady."

Allen, the only junior among the five regulars, has been a key in taking a lot of pressure off Burt. Bowen and Lingle played their first golf last year and have improved steadily.

Thompson struggled early in the season, but his 93 last week at districts pulled the Lions through.

"A lot of them were already friends, but playing together has brought them much closer and it's been fun to watch them mature and grow," Trone said.

"I've coached a lot of different sports, and this has been by far the most rewarding experience."

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