FORT SMITH, Ark. – The Rattlers had their final tees of the season in the Heartland Conference Championship Tournament on Tuesday, finishing fourth overall with the usual clubs swinging in the lead.
Sam Jernigan (Sr., San Antonio) headed the Rattlers with an overall 11th-place finish in the tournament with Chris Becker (Sr., San Antonio) just two strokes and two places behind with a 13th-place finish.
St. Mary’s had a promising first round of the tournament as it ended in a second-place tie with a combined score of 290, just one stroke above the first-place finisher, Arkansas-Fort Smith, which would later go on to win the championship and advance to regionals, a round St. Mary’s had qualified for in each of the past nine years.
Kyle Becker (Fr., San Antonio) was the real shine of the Rattlers’ promise, however.
The freshman certainly had a gold club in the first round to finish on par of 70 to lead the team and the entire tournament. Becker completed the tournament tied at 18th place along with fellow Rattler and fellow freshman Matthew Van Winkle (Castroville, Texas). Rounding out the Rattlers’ showing at the conference tournament was Shawn Bennett (So., Marion, Texas), who hit two strokes above par at 72 in the first round and completed the tournament with a 25th-place finish.
While the Rattlers saw the last performance of one of their top players as Jernigan ended his Ratter career this week, the seasons ahead hold strong possibilities with their underclassmen, and in particular the newcomer who led the conference in his first round in his first-ever encounter with the championship tournament.