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Lady Jackrabbits golf team advances to third consecutive state meet

May 7—GRAFORD — For the last three years, the Graford Lady Jackrabbits varsity golf team has reached the peak level of competition available by achieving an impressive first-time accomplishment in program history.

In each of the last three seasons, the Lady Jackrabbits earned the district championship and qualified for the UIL State Golf Tournament in Class 1A. Before the recent three-year stretch, the Lady Jackrabbits golf team had never reached the state competition.

The Graford golfers' first trip to the state competition was called after 27 holes due to inclement weather, where Graford recorded a ninth-place finish. The following season saw Graford notch sixth at state after improving by 86 strokes as a team. This year, the Lady Jackrabbits are aiming high amidst their historic stretch of success on the golf course.

"Robert Lee has won state the last few years, but they didn't make it this year — that will be a huge advantage for us," Graford golf coach Talley Dixon said. "However, we will still have to go against schools like Garden City and Veribest out of Region II. I think our girls' experience will be a big advantage for us, and they will be familiar with the course we're playing on...They're right there in the top three or four after looking at the Regional scores — this is a really big year for us to possibly win it."

All the while, the Lady Jackrabbit golfers must balance busy schedules and heavy workloads across the board as they prepare for their third state meet in a row.

"These kids are resilient and just go from one sport to another," Dixon said. "We left for regionals with the boys and girls team this year, and they had prom the night before. We get back and then they have their senior trip. My daughter will be interviewing for a state FFA spot while we are at the state golf tournament, so she has to do a zoom call and will probably be on the course during the interview. I've never had to worry about the kids keeping their grades up — they're straight-A students. From the time they start school to the time they finish, they are working hard inside and outside of school nonstop."

Despite not having the resources available to them like many larger school districts, Dixon touted her golfers' work ethic. She said the majority of the players' practices are conducted on their own time. Furthermore, golf is an after-school sport, so the athletes must balance their already rigorous schedules to accommodate for golf practice, which they do consistently.

Along with their work ethic, Dixon preaches the importance of integrity to her players first and foremost.

"I think the biggest thing is to not cheat. Golf is a game of integrity first and foremost, and I have always instilled that in them," Dixon said. "I want them to be honest about everything no matter what score they shoot...I lift them back up when they're down and will feed them a snack, too — I'm the snack queen...It's good to know that they don't lie when they take the course — they just play their game."

The Graford girls golf team has faced plenty of obstacles and challenges on the road through this historic period in the program, which started beyond three years ago for some of the team's standout golfers. Senior Brooke Crawford, who said she also enjoys her team's strong camaraderie, is pleased with how the program has reached new heights through favorable and unfortunate circumstances.

"My dad is the one that told me that I should try the sport, so I gave it a shot when I was pretty young — I don't even remember how old I was," Crawford said. "I've played all three years of high school — freshman year got cut because of COVID. But, I've been to state all three years, so I think we've done pretty good."

The Lady Jackrabbits will compete in the State Tournament, which will take place Monday, May 15 and Tuesday, May 16 at the Plum Creek Golf Course in Kyle. Graford will first tee off at 8:10 a.m. that Monday.