Vanguard’s golf dynasty has lasted so long, its oldest golfers don’t know how it feels to end the season without a title.
With the Vikings’ sweep of the TAPPS 3A state tournament for the fourth time in a row Tuesday at Stonetree Golf Course in Killeen, the current seniors that have played all four years at Vanguard never finished a season without a championship.
Vanguard’s boys continued their domination of the tournament with a 12th straight title, while the girls brought home their fourth crown in a row.
“It’s just like college basketball or college football,” Vikings boys coach Jon Antunes said. “It’s new people involved every year, new families, new kids, and the challenge is new every year.”
As always, both Vanguard teams crushed the competition.
The boys shot a 49-over 625 over the two-day tournament, finishing 59 strokes ahead of second-place Boerne Geneva. The girls’ margin of victory was even more robust, with their 180-over 756 ending up 87 strokes better than runner-up Kennedale Fellowship.
Both teams had three golfers finish in the top 10, including Max Harmon’s second-place posting in the boys tournament. He shot a 68 on Tuesday to finish at 3-over with a 147.
Connor Caldwell followed him in third at 5-over with 149, carding a 73 on the second day. Cole Kerns tied for eighth with an 11-over 155.
“We really just talked about having fun and leaving it all out there and not playing tight, and just enjoying their final experience together as a team,” Antunes said. “And that’s what they did, and that’s why they all played well on the back nine. And they all finished smiling, and that’s what I was really hoping for them, was to go out like that and play well the last day, and they did.”
Vanguard’s three senior girls capped off their decorated high school careers in a familiar spot — near the top of the leaderboard.
Grace Gardner followed up her first-round 89 with a 95 to finish fourth overall at 30-over, setting the tone for the Vikings’ run at the team championship.
“She’s kind of our rock,” Vanguard head girls coach Brian Blair said. “She’s kind of the girl that all the other girls look up to, to see how things are going. With her out in front, really keeping the shift steady, that really helped.”
Audra Atchley shot back-to-back 94s to end the tournament with a sixth-place, 44-over 188, tying her best score this season.
Grace Serr closed out three strokes back in seventh at 191, capped by a second-round 93.
“They’ve always been the one, two, three all four years,” Blair said. “It’s been nice to have them out there and have pretty solid rounds both days.”
Both teams managed to play consistently over both rounds despite bad weather on Monday. The boys shot a 318 to open the day, while the girls carded a 388.
They improved on their team scores the following day, when the rain cleared out and was replaced by more forgiving elements.
“We had three rain delays mixed in with some lightning delays,” Blair said. “We had great weather (Tuesday). The course played great and was in great shape. I’ve got really nothing to complain about, condition-wise. Terrible first day, great second day and a great finish.”
Noah Hasse of Dallas Lutheran won the boys title with a 5-under 139, which included a second-round 64. He was the only golfer, boys or girls, to finish under par in the tournament.
“In the history of TAPPS, the lowest score I’ve ever seen in 10 years of coaching is 66,” Antunes said. “Noah just played really well. He didn’t make any mistakes and it wasn’t luck — he just played well. Unfortunately for our guys, when somebody throws up a 64, there’s not much you can do other than shake his hand and tell him, ‘great playing.’”
League City Christian’s Christina Erickson was the girls low medalist with a 5-over 149. She was even in the final round.