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Gideon ready to step up next year

By Adam Troxtell
On April 23, 2010

As the A&M-Commerce men's golf season comes to a close, the team is being hit with the reality of senior star Danny Jun graduating and moving on. Although that void will be difficult to fill, they already have another player in line to take over the duties of a senior member in junior Dustin Gideon.

"Danny was great for the team, and we can't replace him," Gideon said. "I think it'll be a good step for me. A little more responsibility will, I think, make me play a little bit better and concentrate on things a little bit more."

Gideon is a local product, having graduated from Sulphur Springs High School where he was a four-year letter winner in golf. He said he picked up the game in a casual manner from his uncle when he was around 11 years old.

"My uncle used to play golf all of the time," he said. "He brought his golf clubs down to the lake, and we would always just hit balls down there, just playing around. My dad got into it, and we started going to the driving range. Really, from then on, I've just enjoyed playing it."

Gideon said his father has been a source of great support in golf.

"Just anything I've ever done he's completely supported me in and, more or less, financed everything up until I got older where I could pay for things," he said. "He said, ‘If you want to play golf, we'll get you started.'"

After high school, Gideon took a year off from playing the game scholastically and went to the University of Texas at Arlington. This, however, was short-lived, as he decided to return to the sport he loved.

"I missed golf too much to not keep playing it or not to try and play it somewhere in college," he said. "So, I contacted a few schools, and I ended up talking to Coach [Louie] Bledsoe. After we met up, I moved back home and I commute here now. It's nice being close to home."

During his first Lone Star Conference tournament in the spring 2009, Gideon posted a career best 71 in the opening round and scored a season best 218 for the tournament. While he admits his first season was rough at the start, he said former player Pinkey Hartline, who was tied for 27th along with Gideon in the 2009 LSC tournament, helped him settle in.

"Being out of competitive golf for a year, it was really hard to get back into it," Gideon said. "The two seniors last year, Pinkey Hartline and Blake Worden, they were the two big guns and I watched them. They were really helpful and were, sort of, my mentors when I first came here."

The men's golf team had a rollercoaster 2009-10 season, which ended with an eighth place finish at the LSC tournament. Gideon said it was difficult due to the lack of experience in the team and inconsistent play.

"It was pretty rough throughout the season, because we had so many new people playing," he said. "We only had three returners this year. Of those returners, Danny played really well throughout the fall, but me and Eric (Westerman) struggled a little bit. It's just hard whenever you have new people, and if the veterans are not playing well, it's hard to get going. Every tournament we were right there, we just couldn't get it completely together."

Gideon also said the team began to gel as the season went on, and he is upbeat about the way they finished out the spring.

"As the spring went on, we started to pick things up as a team," he said. "We started to get along really well in and outside of golf, which helped. I thought we finished out the season pretty well."

Jun will be the only departing senior, leaving Gideon with familiar faces to play with this fall. He said he thinks this will have a positive impact.

"First, we need to start off the season a bit stronger than we did this year," Gideon said. "Our regional rankings are based on year-round competitions. You can't just have one good half of the season and hope to make it. You need to be playing consistent throughout. I think with having a few more returning and new prospects coming in, it'll be good for our team."

Bledsoe said Gideon will now be considered the team leader. As he steps into the senior member's role, Gideon said he wants to be able to provide support for his teammates.

"More than just being a part of the team, more or less, I need to be the team," he said. "I need to be the guy you can come to if you need anything; the guy you can look up to."

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