Golf season may be in hibernation, but training doesn’t stop for Farragut junior Lexanne Halama and Christian Academy of Knoxville sophomore Kaleb Wilson.
Both are gearing up for the 2020 season, another run of high school golf, and a future in collegiate golf.
Halama, the 5Star Preps Girls Player of the Year, committed to Illinois not long after the 2019 Division I Large Class state tournament Oct. 15-16 at WillowBrook Golf Club in Manchester.
She finished tied for third at state as the Lady Admirals placed second in the team standings at 12-over, two strokes behind Station Camp.
Her offseason training is in full gear, just like Wilson, the 5Star Preps Boys Player of the Year.
“Right now I’m working on strength training, getting my body in shape for the spring season, and actually doing a little bit of swing breakdown,” Halama said. “I’m just trying to work on my weak spots.”
At the state tournament, Halama shot 2-over 74 on the opening round followed by a 1-over 73 the second round as the weather took a turn for the worse. She tied with Ravenwood’s Shelly Jang at 3-over 147 for the tournament, three strokes behind state champion Lynn Lim of Station Camp (even-par 144) and two strokes behind runner-up Kendall Maynard of Clarksville High (1-over 145).
“I thought I played pretty well, especially when the conditions started getting kind of rough the second day,” she said. “We had a lot of wind, and it was a little bit colder, especially in the morning. I got out there and it was raining and just kind of nasty, so I’m glad it did clear up. But I felt like I played pretty well. If I could change anything, I had kind of a blowup hole on (No.) 9 and I made a wrong decision on the very last hole, so if I could take those back, I would.”
After the state tournament, Halama took her second visit to the Illinois campus in Champaign and committed. She narrowed her final two choices to Illinois and Tennessee, and earlier in the recruiting process considered Louisville, Clemson, and Auburn.
Halama said the golf facilities at Illinois are suited for the colder weather.
Halama will play plenty of golf before starting her career at Illinois. She starts AJGA tournaments in March or April and would like to get back to the 2020 state high school tournament.
“I’m always excited to go there and kind of test my skills and see how much I’ve improved or what I need to work on,” Halama said. “It will be good to go back. I’ve played the course a lot. It’s always fun to see how each year brings new challenges.”
Wilson also has a goal of returning to state after leading CAK to the Division II-A state championship Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at WillowBrook in Manchester.
After shooting 1-under 71 for the opening round, Wilson fired a 4-under 68 on the second day, finishing third for the tournament at 5-under 139.
It could have been much better.
“I played horribly the first day,” Wilson said. “I shot 71 somehow. I was 2 over through six holes. I hit one in the hazard on the first hole, the first tee shot, and then on hole 6 I missed a really, really short putt. After I missed that short putt, it kind of got my competitive juices flowing and I started playing a lot better. From then on, I was 7 under for the tournament after that sixth hole on the first day.”
Wilson finished three strokes behind state champion Patton Samuels of Clarksville Academy (8-under 136) and one stroke behind runner-up Will Rieck of Battle Ground Academy (6-under 138).
CAK’s team went 8-over for the state title with Trinity Christian second at 33-over.
Wilson said the team title was at the top of his goals.
“I think that’s almost the main thing going to state,” he said, “because I’m just trying to do the best I can for my team. Individual is important to me, but it will come if I try and play my best for my team.”
Wilson will stay busy as tournament golf slows down.
“This offseason I really want to get stronger,” Wilson said. “I feel like that if I have more distance, you have shorter clubs into greens, and then you can make more birdies, so I feel like distance is big. I also was really wanting to improve on my short game. My putting was pretty good all year long, but there’s always room for improvement in that category.”
While working on his game, Wilson is ramping up the recruiting process in accordance to NCAA rules.
“I have to make a list of schools I want to go to and pursue those schools and make sure they know who I am,” Wilson said.
Wilson recently went to a camp at Auburn, which is one of his top choices. Baylor is another. He’d like to play somewhere in the South.
“I really don’t want to go somewhere cold,” Wilson said.