PNG’s Hemler, Kelly’s Miller take home top Zaharias Awards

Published 11:08 pm Thursday, June 8, 2017

BEAUMONT — Karlei Hemler received four straight invitations to the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Awards dinner, quite an accomplishment in itself.

Taking home the biggest award in Southeast Texas girls golf, however, is much sweeter. To do it twice is just heavenly.

“It’s definitely an honor to be nominated four times in a row,” the future McNeese State golfer said. “But I feel like this year I played a lot better, so it feels better than it did last year.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Hemler was named the girls golfer of the year in the area for the second time in three years during Thursday night’s ceremony at the Montagne Center’s Cardinal Club room. Jonathan Miller of Kelly won the award for boys golfer of the year.

Hemler’s second BDZ Award caps off a stellar high school career in which she won the District 22-5A championship for the third straight year. She came in second to Leah Alberto of Kingwood Park in the 5A Region III tournament and was 10th in the state tournament.

When she first made state as a sophomore, she became PNG’s first such qualifier since 1978.

“My goal was to make it to state at least once through my high school career,” Hemler said, “but three times made it even better. Last year, we brought two girls to state, which is better, but senior year, that was my goal. I was really worried I wasn’t going to make it because my game just wasn’t as high as it used to, but once I did it, it was a big relief.”

Hemler’s teammate Brynna Bailey was a finalist for the girls’ top BDZ Award, as well as Kelly freshman Elizabeth Townsend and Hardin-Jefferson’s Shelby Seymour.

Miller helped the Kelly boys team finish second in TAPPS team standings after winning it last year. He was third in medalist standings.

“My freshman year, we weren’t very good,” Miller said, adding he was on the team just to have fun as a freshman.

But as a sophomore, he wanted Kelly to win state for his brother William, then a senior. William is transferring to Lamar from Texas State, Jonathan said.

“Last year, we worked or way up, and we won state,” Jonathan Miller said. “We had the pressure on us this year, but we got second this year. We’re going to be pretty good next year. I’m really liking how it’s been.”

Miller won the award over Josh Elmore of PNG, Brendan Marley of Nederland and Trent Kizer of Vidor.

Trey Love of Little Cypress-Mauriceville and Mackenzie Sears of Silsbee received the BDZ Character/Leadership Awards. Among the finalists for the boys award was Jadon Bell of Nederland, Jared Dowdy of West Brook and Bryce Shaver of Lumberton. Girls finalists were Theresa Beckett of LCM, Bailey and Hemler.

Bell took on leadership responsibilities for Nederland as a sophomore on a young team that made the Region III tournament.

“I just try to turn in the best score every tournament, and my team would come in clutch,” Bell said.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

email author More by I.C.