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RHS golf takes second in state

MUSCLE SHOALS — Half of the competition was over when Russellville led the state golf tournament after the first day at The Shoals golf course in Muscle Shoals.

The club is a Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail course, and it played like one.

Many players from 5A teams across the state had difficulty with the course’s setup, and the Golden Tigers got the best of that Monday during day one of the state tournament.

Unfortunately for Russellville, there were still 18 rounds of golf to be played, and the course managers made The Shoals play much tougher on day two on Tuesday.

Perennial tournament favorite St. Paul’s had the advantage of having a player named Robbie Shelton, who was already signed to the University of Alabama’s golf team before the state tournament began, and the young man played like it.

He shot 66 on day one, which was the lowest individual total of that day.

He helped St. Paul’s stay close to Russellville with a 312.

On day two, he not only lowered the gap, he created one for his team.

St. Paul’s shot a 308 on day two, but the Golden Tigers struggled and managed only a 324.

This was still good enough to give them a two-day total of 632 and second place in the state in 5A.

“The biggest difference today was St. Paul’s played a lot better,” Russellville head coach Jason Haithcock said.

“Their number two and three guys played so much better today, and that helped put them in a position to do well. It’s hard to do anything against a machine like Robbie Shelton.

“The way he plays he can really make up ground for two or three players, and that’s what happened today.

“My two and three played well today. Will [Bragwell] got off to a tough start today and wasn’t ever really able to recover.

“We won the two and three matches, but Shelton was able to overcome St. Paul’s deficit.”

St. Paul’s finished with a 620. Third place went to Spanish Fort, which shot a 646.

Cullman was right behind in fourth with a 648, Homewood took fifth with a 669 and Hartselle came in sixth with a final tally of 672.

Shelton’s 67 was the best on day two, with Russellville’s Hagen Price shooting the lowest for his team with a 78.

Price’s two-day total of  150 put him at fifth in the individual standings and tops of the Golden Tigers.

Eli Hodges totaled 153,  Will Bragwell had a 161,  Aaron Jackson totaled 168 and Blake Bendall was right behind with a 169.

Second in the state in 5A is not bad for a school that is relatively knew to understanding and appreciating the sport of golf.

“It’s a good feeling knowing where we started this program four years ago,” Haithcock said.

“Russellville hadn’t been this deep in the playoffs in quite some time. Now that we’ve been here to state two years in a row and now taking second, we’ve got a competitive taste in our mouth.

“It’s helping with kids in the school taking part and wanting to play.”

The second-place state trophy brings a successful season to a close for Russellville.

“We set out a lot of goals at the beginning of the season, and we accomplished pretty much all those with the exception of one or two,” Haithcock said.

“If you would have asked me a couple of weeks ago if I would have taken second place in the state championship I probably would have set yes. I know we had the opportunity to win, we just didn’t pull it off.”

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