Bucks’ Lloyd enjoys first trip to state finals

Published 9:07 am Wednesday, June 14, 2017

BIG RAPIDS — The last time the Buchanan Bucks golf program was represented in the MHSAA Division 3 State Finals, the year was 2000 and the Bucks’ Austin Lloyd was still a year away from being born.

The 15-year-old freshman qualified for the state finals by shooting an 80 at the regional tournament on May 31, at Stonehedge golf course.

In his first season of high school golf, Lloyd finished third in the BCS Central division (44 average), finished fourth at the BCS conference tournament (84), was voted team MVP, first team All-BCS Central division and qualified individually for the state tournament.

That is a very good high school career, let alone a freshman season.

“I feel that Austin making state as a freshman means a lot to the program for the future,” said Buchanan athletic director Lonnie Hoover. “He has a lot to look forward to over his next three years and hopefully his success will help bring other talented golfers into the program.”

On Friday and Saturday Lloyd was one of 108 players to tee off at Katke Golf Course on the campus of Ferris State in Big Rapids with a chance at a state championship.

While neither day would go the way Lloyd would have wanted, the atmosphere, the experience and the whole weekend in general were all experiences that he will never forget.

“It was awesome,” Lloyd said. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to go as a freshman. It was fun and words can’t explain it.”

The state tournament is 85 percent filled with all-conference players or returning state qualifiers, which just magnifies the grand size of the stage that is the state tournament. That stage proved to be more than the freshman was ready for this year as his two-day total of 214 placed him 105 out of the 108 participants.

“The pressure was a lot,” Lloyd said. “I need to practice more, especially tournament golf, so I can better handle the pressure moving forward.”

Despite his play, and finish, several family members and friends made the trek from Buchanan up to Big Rapids to watch him play.

Social media was abuzz with many congratulations and well wishes. It is safe to say the school, his friends, his family, his coaches and his community is proud of him, no matter how he finished.

The Buchanan freshman wants to see continued success as he continues his high school career, but not just for himself.

“I’d like us to qualify for state as a team before I graduate,” Lloyd said. “As far as my own goals, it’s yet to come. I just want to see where this game takes me. But to know that I was one of 108 golfers to make it to state, and to do so as a freshman, thats something I will always remember.”

The 90-day journey that began on March 13 in the auxiliary gym at Buchanan High School and ended on hole No. 1 (his finishing hole) of a golf course 158 miles from that same gym was an experience that many kids will never get the opportunity to experience, and a story that is only getting started.