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TRA’s Luke Smith earns third at State, sets school record as an eighth-grader

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Luke Smith medal Luke Smith with Coach

The 2014 Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebel Golf team was busy this past season breaking records.
The final piece to fall in this standout season was the best finish for an individual Rebel golfer at State. On Oct. 6-7, TRA eighth-grader Luke Smith traveled up to Manchester to play the Willow Brook Golf Club course in the Division II-A State Golf Championships.
Smith shot a personal best 76 and 74 in the two days to finish third overall.
“My goal was to get in the top 10,” Smith admitted. “I thought I could get maybe eighth or ninth place. Maybe just below that 10 mark, to get third is pretty awesome.”
TRA Golf Coach Steve McQuiston guided Smith and his teammates to a school record 15-1 mark during the season. The Rebels finished one spot in Regionals from sending the entire team to State.
Joining Smith on the fourth place Regional team were juniors Houston Hall, Preston Trainor and Logan Rose; sophomores Addison Bolton, Drake Downing and Braden Ryan; and freshman Eric Brunson.
Most of the season Hall and Trainor were the No. 1 and No. 2 for McQuiston earning the most medalists. But just one-one hundredth of point behind them was Smith.
Averaging 41 in nine holes, Smith felt he had an outside shot of making State as an individual.
“I thought I could if I just played my game and didn’t get nervous,” he recalled. “Easily, Houston and Preston could have made it too. But they just had some rough days.
“I was pumped,” Smith continued. “I was so excited. As an eighth grader, I was just pumped to make State.”
Shooting his then personal best 77, Smith had to prepare for a trip to Manchester.
On Oct. 6 it was time for Smith to tee off.
“He was on that first tee box and I would tell something was wrong,” McQuiston acknowledged. “He just wasn’t comfortable and of course you’ve got to hit it over water. His first was in the water. But after that, he’s a mature kid to be an eighth grader. He took it in stride and went on.”
Smith admitted the first hole intimidated him, but he settled down to shoot a new personal best 76.
“I was really excited because I started off real rough,” he recalled. “I started to drain a lot of putts.
“I thought to myself, ‘Just forget about the last hole,’” Smith added. “‘Focus on what you’ve got to do. You never know.’ And you don’t know with golf because every hole has that something special about it.”
The final day of competition was special all around for Smith shooting a 74.
“I hit it over the water of course,” Smith said. “And I stuck it about 8-feet away. I lipped out my birdie putt and made par. It went from there and I gained confidence.”
Smith said throughout the season he gained confidence and much more thanks to his teammates.
“I learned a bunch, of course how to handle pressure more,” he said. “I learned how to become a better leader. And just understanding the game from backer tees and playing against older guys. I learn just the maturity that my older helped me to understand about the game.”
Smith said his two-day at State setting a school-record gave him additional lessons.
“I learned what it takes to be able to win and what I need to practice on,” he said. “It helped me to see where I am in my skill level.”
With four more years to improve on his personal and team records, Smith said he wants to make sure more Rebels have a chance to post solid numbers at State.
“I’ll tell them to focus on what they’re doing and to never give up,” he said. “Even in the roughest holes in life, you can always bounce back.
“It makes me feel awesome,” Smith concluded about his record. “I think this if the beginning of a good career for me and hopefully some good stuff in the future.”

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