NORTH LITTLE ROCK -- The Benton Panther golf team began the season with a dominant performance in the Yellowjacket Invitational Tournament on Monday at Stonelinks Golf Course in North Little Rock. The Panthers boys and girls team each won their side of the tournament against teams they will be playing throughout the year.
Led by senior Grace Liles’ top score of 79 (+7), the Benton girls team shot a 271 to blow out the competition, which consisted of 7A/6A South conference members, by 13 shots. El Dorado took second with a score of 284, Sheridan 287 and Lake Hamilton shot a 295 for fourth.
“Our girls’ score is a state championship-caliber score,” Benton golf Coach Chad Pitts said. “If we could get that at state, we would have a good chance at winning state.”
Senior Panther Kaylen Presnall shot a 92 and senior Daphne Bono, junior Karli Lipinski and freshman Kristyn Coffman each shot a score of 100. The top three girls’ scores for each team are counted toward the total.
“It’s always good when you can shoot anything below a 280 is great,” Pitts said. “To almost get down to 270 was awesome. All the girls played really well Monday.”
Senior Austin Eoff led the boys with a 67 (-5) as the Panthers shot a 307 (par 288) to best second-place El Dorado by six shots. Lake Hamilton took third with a 317, Sheridan shot a 321 and Texarkana took last with a 335.
“I have four seniors and a junior and hopefully they will carry us through conference and state,” Pitts said about the boys.
Senior Keith Hammer shot a 77 for second for the Panthers, senior lefty Cameron Treece shot a 78, senior Coulton Lee came in with an 85 and junior Matthew Perry shot an 86. The top four boys scores are counted toward the total.
“It was a good tournament for us because every team from our conference was there,” Pitts started, “so to be able to sweep the boys and sweep the girls was a confidence boost knowing we can compete and beat everybody in conference. That just shows we can win conference if we just go out and play like we’re capable of playing.”
Benton was scheduled to play at Diamante in Hot Springs yesterday, but inclement weather forced the postponement. The Panthers will play next in a tournament in El Dorado on Monday.