By Maurice Patton
How did Summit junior Claudette Runk prepare for this week’s TSSAA Large Class State Championships golf tournament?
By trying to hit a different ball.
Don’t worry, though. Heading into Tuesday’s opening round of the two-day event at WillowBrook in Manchester, Runk said her softball swing doesn’t impact her golf swing.
“It’s the other way around for me,” said Runk, a three-sport athlete who played in her first softball tourney of the fall this weekend and anticipates the start of preseason basketball practice shortly. “My golf swing messes with my softball swing. I swing the bat like a club.
“All my friends make fun of me for that.”
Though golf has been a secondary sport for Runk – behind softball – she said the friendships she’s made on the links have helped her enjoy it more.
The success probably hasn’t hurt, either.
After qualifying for the state tournament as a freshman two years ago, she shot a first-day 81. That turned out to be her score for the tourney, as inclement weather forced cancellation of the final round. Last year, she did not advance out of Region 6, but she answered with a 79 last week at Dickson’s GreyStone to claim a berth after finishing third at the District 11 tournament with a 76.
“I’ve been practicing more,” Runk said as she explored her recent success. “I’ve definitely focused more on golf this year than normal. And my dad (David) has been a big help to me. He’s been very supportive.”
Sibling rivalries never hurt that development, either. Claudette’s older brother, Summit senior Alex, came up short of a region berth a couple of weeks ago.
“I definitely gave him a hard time,” she said.
Having played in less-than-ideal conditions at her initial state tournament and in the recent regional, Runk feels mentally prepared for her 9:50 a.m. tee time Tuesday.
“I just tried to stay focused the whole time. I had to not think about the conditions and play like I could play,” she said regarding the rain at GreyStone. “That’s how I have to go into state. Going as a freshman, I was extremely nervous, but I think it’ll help a little (now) with nerves — being there before, being used to the environment, knowing the course, knowing what to expect. It helps with the nerves.”
Coming off that 81 in 2018, focus doesn’t figure to be an issue this week.
“I wasn’t very satisfied with that,” she said. “I hope to be at 73 or under.
“I’m just happy it won’t be raining this year.”