Catholic, Strafford state-bound after strong sectional golf showings

Here’s a recap of the action from Monday’s Class 2 Sectional 3 golf tournament. Qualifiers will compete at the Class 2 state tournament May 16-17 at Sedalia Country Club.



Strafford headed to state
Inclement weather and a sluggish start didn’t prevent the Strafford boys’ golf team from achieving program history.

Strafford’s second-place finish in the Class 2 Sectional 3 tournament at Bill & Payne Stewart Golf Course has the Indians headed to state for the first time as a team.

Coming into this season, Strafford returned four seniors from a group that was 19 strokes shy of qualifying for state in 2015.

“We knew as a team that since we were bringing four seniors back, we’d have a good chance to get that second spot from sectionals,” said Strafford coach Mark Call. “It’s not easy at a school like Strafford to get five guys that can shoot that well. We knew we had to take advantage of it and (the players) did.”

Displaying their balanced nature, the Indians were led by their No. 3 golfer – senior Garret Gorder. He shot a 79 (+9), tying for sixth in the individual standings.

Braden Campbell (84), Tristan Crow (85) and Devon Edwards (90) rounded out Strafford’s scoring. Crow and Tristan Losh, who shot a 91 on Monday, were state qualifiers last year.

“It’s hard to put a 1-through-5 five on them because at every point in the year, we’ve had a different guy shoot our lowest score,” Call said. “We really have four of almost the exact same guy. Any one of them can shoot in the low 80s or high 70s. It’s really not that surprising that (Gorder) did that.”

Qualifying for state didn’t come easy for the Indians. Starting the day on the back nine, bogies piled up for Strafford before the Indians rallied on Holes 1-through-9.

The Indians were trying to keep pace with Lamar, which had edged Strafford by five strokes for second place at districts last week. All five Strafford qualifiers were able to qualify individually from the Class 2 District 6 meet held at Karen Kjar Memorial Golf Course in Buffalo, enabling the Indians to compete as a team in Monday’s sectionals.

 “I had us 11 (strokes) down at the turn (today),” Call said. “But we knew (Lamar) had to play the tougher (back) nine. And then the weather kicked in, which probably helped us. (Our players) shot what they’re capable of shooting on the front. They went out and took it. They earned it.

“After the back nine, I really thought they had played their way out of it,” Call said. “They really held strong on the front nine and shot some of their best 9-hole scores on the front.”


Dixon junior rebounds from shaky district showing
Coming into Monday, Dixon’s Jeff Norman knew at least two things: he could do a lot better than he showed in last week’s district round, and Stewart was a course that played to his style.

Both proved to be true as the DHS junior shot a 3-over 73, tying him for second in the individual standings. A week ago, he placed fifth at districts at Mountain View Municipal Golf Course, but struggled on the day by his standards, shooting a 14-over (86).

“I just really like this course (Stewart). I shot a 74 here at districts last season,” Norman said. “At districts (last week), I just played the worst round I’ve had all year. I went to the range and worked it out.

“I didn’t think (an 86) was going to happen again. I knew I could do better than that.”

Draw shots played a large part in Norman’s success Monday. The junior will compete in the state tournament next week for the third time in his career.

“There are a lot of holes where a draw (shot) can really help you out,” Norman said. “That’s what I like to play. (The course) just fits my eye and I really like it a lot.”

Walz duo, Bailey continue Catholic’s run of state-qualifying teams
First-place Catholic (306) bested Strafford by 32 strokes, marking the second sectional title in three seasons for the Irish.

Leading Catholic on Monday was No. 4 golfer Jake Walz, who shot a 2-over 72 to claim medalist honors.  

“My putting was really good. It’s something I’ve been working on a little bit,” he said. “I putted well and I just missed in the right places today, so that helped a lot.”

A steady rain fall hit the course early Monday afternoon, when most golfers still had three-to-five holes remaining. Walz was mentally prepared for any possible weather and said he didn’t rush himself.

“I knew it was going to rain today and I was like, ‘There’s nothing I can do about it,’” he said. “I just put on my rain gear and kept going. I didn’t worry about it too much.”

Nick Walz (+3) tied for second and Nate Bailey (+5) finished alone in fourth in the individual standings for Catholic.

The Irish are set to compete at the Class 2 state tournament – held this year at Sedalia Country Club May 16-17 – for the fourth time in five years as a team. The top two teams (Catholic, Strafford) and top 12 finishers from non-qualifying teams earned state bids in Monday's sectional action.

Catholic finished 6th in Class 2 in 2014 and 7th last year.

“I think we can do well at state,” Jake Walz said. “We just have to play to our abilities and keep our heads together. Duke it out and play well.”