Skip to content

Flower Mound Marcus’ return to title tournament, players to watch

Kerry Gabel’s motivational message to his Flower Mound Marcus golf team as it prepares to play in the UIL state tournament on Monday and Tuesday is to concentrate on positives and quickly dismiss the negatives.

“If there is a three-putt early in the round, so what? There’s another hole to play,” Gabel explained. “I want them to think about the things they are doing really well and focus on that.”

The coach’s philosophy carries more meaning considering his ongoing health challenges. He is in his sixth year of a battle against cancer that has taken him through clinical trials, surgeries and radiation treatments.

“Cancer has changed my world and the way I live my life and it has also changed the way I coach,” said Gabel, who lost a kidney to the disease in 2016. “I’m trying to get the kids to realize there is more to it than shooting a low golf score. Life throws us curveballs. It might be cancer or it might be an issue with a teacher in school. We deal with it.”

Keeping things positive has paid off. Marcus’ boys team will compete at state for the fourth time in school history and the first time since 2016-17, the season when Gabel first learned he had cancer. Marcus’s five-man team will compete in a 36-hole format based on its lowest four 18-hole scores each day at the Class 6A venue, Legacy Hills Golf Club in Georgetown.

It is an intriguing and youthful lineup that Gabel will send out for Monday’s 8 am start.

From left: Marcus head golf coach Kerry Gabel and team members Trevor Algya, Sam Pampling, Kenneth Melendrez, Kamri Gabel and Jack Kash pictured at Bridlewood Golf Club in Flower Mound, Texas, Wednesday, May 4, 2022.(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)

Leading the Marauders at regional was the aptly-named sophomore Awesome Burnett with rounds of 73 and 71 to finish tied for a second. The unique first name came from his father Mark who was watching a basketball game on television. Something clicked when he heard announcer Dick Vitale say, “He’s awesome with a capital A.” Awesome has not needed his parents’ emergency backup name.

Junior Sam Pampling is the son of PGA Tour veteran Rod Pampling, now a member of the Champions tour. “Sam has a wealth of experience and knowledge,” Gabel said. “And Rod is a great dad. He comes out to quite a few tournaments when he has time. He’s there for all the guys on the team. It has been helpful for me to bounce things off him.”

Gabel’s association with Trevor Algya, the only senior on the starting five, began eight years ago. Even as a fourth-grader, the coach was impressed by Algya’s work ethic.

Rounding out the lineup are juniors Kenneth Melendez, who tied for seventh at regional, and Jack Kash, who tied for 16th.

A year ago, Marcus struggled on the second day of the District 6-6A tournament and failed to qualify for regional. A more mature, team-oriented squad was able to advance this spring at very competitive district and Region I tournaments.

To make this spring even more special, Gabel’s daughter Kamri, a senior UT-Arlington signee, has qualified for the UIL girls golf state tournament May 16-17. Her key playoff moment for her was sinking a long putt on the final hole of the district tournament with dad holding his breath.

“We went from thinking it would be our last competitive round together to the chance to continue at regional,” said Gabel who also coaches the girls team. “With what we’ve been through over the last few years, it was an emotional moment.”

The news is uplifting health-wise, too. Gabel began taking a medication three years ago that he says has helped him gain weight and feel “almost normal” again.

“I’m still fighting cancer and dealing with it, but the medication has given me a life.”

Alive for 5

Highland Park is well-armed as it seeks a fifth consecutive Class 5A state title and 23rd overall at Georgetown’s White Wing Golf Club. The Scots, making their 36th trip to state, qualified both five-man teams with the Blue winning the Region II event with a score of 597 and the Gold 21 strokes behind in second place.

After lineup tweaks following regionals, the Blue will be composed of senior SMU signee and Region II medalist Christian Clark, senior Texas A&M signee Joe Stover, freshman Brooks Simmons and juniors Martin Kemp and Preston Cooper.

The Gold consists of senior Mack Duvall, freshman Blake Goodnight, junior Jacob Pletcher, sophomore Robert Boyce and freshman Charles Nelson.

The 11th Highland Park qualifier is sophomore Will Blankenship as an individual entry.

“The goal is to go out and do the best we can at being the best versions of ourselves,” said Highland Park coach Erik Henson. “If we can do that, we will have controlled all that we can.”

Ominous news for future foes when the Scots move up to 6A in the next school year — only three of the 11 state qualifiers are seniors.

Other teams to watch

argyles

Coach: cody vanderford

Senior Zane Griggs, junior Gaven Lane and sophomore Cooper Jensen broke 70 in one of two rounds at the Class 4A Region I tournament that the defending state champions won by 29 strokes. Griggs tied for first at the regional meet and Lane, an Oklahoma State pledge at age 14, was individual runner-up at state in 2021. Senior Nathan Rosser, eighth at regional, and sophomore Ethan Payne complete the Eagles’ lineup. Argyle is making his 10th consecutive state tournament appearance and a fifth state crown remains the goal.

Mansfield

Coach: Wilson Traps

Senior Cameron Beck was runner-up in the Class 6A Region II tournament, junior Tate Littman finished tied for fifth and freshman Patrick Babb tied for 13th to help the Tigers reach the state tournament for the 13th time. In 2021 after a four-year state tournament absence, Mansfield finished 11th. Seniors Landon Farrar and Mason Krismer rounded out the lineup.

West Plane

Coach: Joe Cravens

With Texas Tech signee Matthew Comegys leading the way as medalist, the Wolves captured the Class 6A Region I tournament to lock up their 12th trip to state. Junior Ethan Fang, verbally pledged to Cal-Berkley, tied for fourth at regional and sophomore Alex Huang tied for 16th place. Senior Davis Miller was one stroke behind Huang. Comegys, Huang and senior Jayden Song are returnees from last year’s quintet that placed eighth at state.

Other players to watch

player school Class Remarkable
Maddox Burton Irving North Hills jr. Winner of the Class 4A Region II tournament with rounds of 68 and 72.
Michael Chevalier grapevine jr. Placed third in the Class 5A Region I event thanks to a closing round score of 71.
Daniel Choy Keller Mr. Duke signee shot 68 on the final day at 6A state last year and finished tied for 17th. Tied for fourth at the Region I tournament last month with a 1-over 145 two-round total.
Nolan De Los Santos Life Waxahachie Mr. Led his Class 4A team to a third-place finish at the Region II tournament and its first state tournament berth with rounds of 73 and 71 for even-par 144 to finish third individually.
kaelen dulany Keller Mr. Arkansas signee is defending 6A individual state champion with rounds of 70 and 68 to win by a stroke in ’21. Qualified tied for fourth this year at the Region I tournament.
Will Livermore Frisco Wakeland Mr. Tied for third in District 9-5A and was seventh in the 5A Region II tournament, shooting 76 each day.
Ryan Shellberg Prosper Rock Hill SW. Class 5A state qualifier as a freshman last spring when he tied for 24th, placed third at the Region II meet last month to punch a return ticket.
Preston Stout Richardson Pearce jr. Second at 6A state in 2021 and runner-up at the Region I tournament at even par 144 over 36 holes.

UIL Boys Golf State Tournament

May 9-10 (Play begins at 8 am)

Class 6A Legacy Hills Golf Club, Georgetown

Class 5A White Wing Golf Club, Georgetown

Class 4A Legends Golf Course, Kingsland

Class 3A Jimmy Clay Golf Course, Austin

Class 2A Lions Municipal Golf Course, Austin

Class 1A Plum Creek Golf Course, Austin

From left: Marcus golf team members Trevor Algya, Sam Pampling Kamri Gabel, Kenneth...

one/12From left: Marcus golf team members Trevor Algya, Sam Pampling Kamri Gabel, Kenneth Melendrez and Jack Kash pictured at Bridlewood Golf Club in Flower Mound, Texas, Wednesday, May 4, 2022.(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)

+++

Scottie Scheffler celebrates as walks next to Cameron Smith, of Australia, after winning the...

Find more high school sports coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

To view subscription options for The News and SportsDay, click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.