3A champ Wilkins helped PHS back to the summit

Among a talented team of players, many with state championship aspirations, it was Trae Wilkins' time.

The senior had starred for Plainview since his freshman season. He was seasoned and ready, flashing the ability to win the individual state title as a junior.

But Plainview fell a little short in 2012, finishing second as a team with a more-than-respectable eighth-place finish for Wilkins as an individual.

The Murray State signee would have none of that in 2013.

"That was awesome," Wilkins said of Plainview's team state championship, the school's first in boys golf since 1998. "I wasn't even trying to win it by myself. I was just trying to think that if I did good, the team would do good.

"I came in that first day, I was in the lead, and I was like 'Wow, I can do this.' That next day, I was zoned in."

Over two days at Duncan Golf and Country Club, Wilkins put together a performance that elevated Plainview's team triumph to a sweep of dominance. The Indians scored a redemptive win with a 29-stroke victory, made all the more sweet by Wilkins outlasting Zac Schaefer of Oklahoma Christian Academy in a three-hole playoff for the individual crown.

"It was pretty special," Bloodworth said. "Trae had kinda a rough time off of the golf course this year. It was great to see him do what he was best at: playing golf and making birdies. There's no better way to go out your senior year.

"That's something he's always wanted to do and I was really proud of him."

Wilkins put himself in a shaky situation leading up to his victory. His three-putt on the 18th hole allowed Schaefer to tie and set up the playoff scenario.

But Wilkins, a veteran of junior golf in the summer and numerous tournament victories, wasn't fazed at all. In fact, he relished the opportunity in front of what he called one of the largest crowds he's played in front of before.

"Now that I look back, I'm glad I missed that putt on 18," Wilkins said. "That playoff was awesome. That was once-in-a-lifetime."

"He's played summer golf all across the United States, and he's won a lot of those tournaments," Bloodworth said. "That's exactly why you play summer ball. He's been in that situation before, and he's a cool cat."

All the steely nerves in the world couldn't help Wilkins earlier in the season, when two hand injuries hampered what he could do on the course. Wilkins said his season could have actually been better.

But he peaked at the right time, placing third at the 3A regional before playing his best at state.

"Trae kinda had a late start," Bloodworth said. "As the season wore on, he realized that his time was running out. He spent a lot of time on the golf course working on his game individually and I think it showed there at the state tournament."

It showed on Wilkins' playoff victory. With all eyes on the Plainview senior, Wilkins lined up an approach shot from 60 yards out on the third playoff hole and knocked it stiff to within three feet of a state title.

It was a storybook ending to a decorated career.

"It couldn't have been any sweeter," Wilkins said. "I didn't want to lose. I came that far and I was tired of being short.

"We've worked so hard. Last year we were short. The year before we were short. It was good to go out with a bang."

Follow Horne on Twitter: @ekhorneARD