Valley Strong: RGV golfers have historic day at 5A regional tourney

McALLEN It was a historic day for Rio Grande Valley high school golf.

The RGV is going to send two teams to the Class 5A state tournament after McAllen Memorial and Sharyland High finished second and third, respectively. Harlingen South’s Jeffrey Janik qualified individually to up the total of qualified golfers to 11 at the conclusion of the Region IV tournament at Champion Lakes in McAllen.

“This is the first time in my 35 years that we have sent this many teams and individuals to the state tournament at one time,” McAllen Memorial golf head coach Celso Gonzales said. “To have two go from the same district is telling of how tough our district is.”

Gonzales’ Mustangs finished second with a score of 44-over par, only 11 strokes off first. McAllen Memorial’s Dylan Villarreal, Evan McGurk, Liam McGurk, Diego Amour and Kai Tamez contributed to the team’s second-place finish.

McAllen Memorial’s Dylan Villareal sinks his putt on the 9th green in a Class 5A Region IV golf tournament at Champion Lakes golf course on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Villarreal, a future University of Incarnate Word golfer, finished second individually with a score of 3-over for the tournament, two strokes off of Smithson Valley’s Ryan Griff.

Villarreal wanted to come out on top but, overall, was pleased with his performance, which helped the Mustangs to a back-to-back state tournament appearance as a team for the first time in school history.

“I am very proud of my teammates for hanging in there,” Villarreal said. “I was not wanting this to be my last tournament of my high school career.”

Gonzales was proud of how his team handled the wind, as was Sharyland High head coach Fernando Rodriguez of his golfers. The Rattlers only finished three strokes behind McAllen Memorial to finish third and grab the last team qualifying spot.

Both teams had a comfortable lead after Day 1.

“We can’t take anything for granted,” Rodriguez said. “We just got to go out there and play our game anything is out of our control. We went out there, played without pressure and did what we needed to do to get back to state.”

Sharyland High’s Octavio Cantu, Lorenzo Garza, Vik Akin, Pablo Trevino and Nico Trevino represented their school Monday and Tuesday.

Sharyland High’s Octavio Cantu hits onto the 7th green in a Class 5A Region IV golf tournament at Champion Lakes golf course on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Cantu had a strong showing this week to finish tied for fifth individually at 6-over. Cantu barely missed out last year and is happy to help his team go to state.

“It is great to finally make it,” Cantu said.

Garza finished seventh, two strokes behind his teammate and Harlingen South’s Jeffrey Janik.

Janik, the District 32-5A champion, started shaky Monday after going 5-over after the first six holes, but the senior found his groove on the next 30 holes to finish tied for fifth and earn a spot at state.

“I was just trying to stay focused and not get in my head,” Janik said. “I just tried to stick to it and make putts.”

Janik is the first golfer from Harlingen South to qualify for state since 2011.

Smithson Valley, the defending state champion, won the tournament by going 33-over. Harlingen South finished sixth, Mission Veterans took 13th and Weslaco East came in 16th.

Smithson Valley’s Ryan Griff watches his drive on the 8th hole in a Class 5A Region IV golf tournament at Champion Lakes golf course on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

The Class 5A state tournament is scheduled for April 29-30 at Legacy Hills Golf Club in Georgetown.

Girls Tourney Preview

The RGV girls took the course for their practice round as the boys finished up their round. The Class 5A girls tourney is set for Wednesday and Thursday beginning at 8 a.m.

Competing from District 32-5A is Edcouch-Elsa’s Jordan Hernandez, the district individual champion. Hernandez won 32-5A by 17 strokes and is the second best overall girl in the Valley with a scoring average of 84.50.

Harlingen South won the district and is sending Sofia Pena, Daniella Sanchez, Mya Salinas, Ava Salgado and Morgan Hrushka. Brownsville Veterans finished second in district with Alexis Silva, Sophia Guerrero, Taryn Marta and Anapaola Nunez.

Brownsville Porter’s Yessenia Medellin returns to regionals with third best average in the Valley after finishing third individually at district.

McAllen Memorial’s Andrea Juarez, Sofia Alaniz-Choy, Sofia Oliveira, Natalie Morales and Kyndal Barron won the District 31-5A title. Sharyland Pioneer’s Alyssa Cedillo, Victoria Sandoval, Peyton York, Khloe Lopez-Garza and Gloria Almaguer qualified with a second place finish at district.

Edinburg Vela’s Amber Martin and Kylee Rocha qualified individually. Martin has the best average score in the Valley with an average of 84.15.

Mission Veterans qualified by winning District 30-5A with Amiably Rodriguez, Lauren Gonzalez, Victoria Olivarez, Marisa Pena and Brianna Ulloa. La Joya Palmview finished second with Karyme Longoria, Valeria Martinez, Dominique Requenez, Liberty Ortiz and Valentina Zamarripa.

Roma’s Abigail Escobar and Rio Grande City’s Jaylen Gonzalez qualified as individuals.