By Nolan Epstein
Springfield, Mo. — Despite graduating three seniors, Glendale golf is finding ways to keep its state-championship momentum going – thanks in large part to freshman Dawson Meek.
Don’t let his grade level fool you. He’s incredibly talented with a golf club, and he proved it on Monday by shooting a 75 to lead all golfers and propel Glendale to a team victory at the Springfield Invite at Millwood Golf and Racquet Club.
Meek, who took full advantage of his opportunity to compete at the varsity level in his first year of high school, started with a bang and didn’t look back – fighting through a wet course and a constant breeze to finish four strokes better than teammate Chase Gafner and Springfield Catholic’s Drake Johnson, who both came in second with a score of 79.
The final three holes, highlighted by a triple bogey on the 385-yard Hole 16, presented somewhat of a challenge for Meek, but the youngster stayed calm and collected to maintain his solid advantage on the scorecard.
“It went well on the first 15 [holes] and then I kind of struggled there at the end,” said Meek. “I played well overall and I’m pretty happy our team played well enough to win.”
Behind Meek and Gafner, Alex Locke (81), Conner Obert (82) and Brett Davis (85) all turned in strong performances for the young Falcons, totaling a score of 317. Four out of the top five finishers for Glendale came away with Top 10 overall scores on the day.
Nixa (341), Catholic (345) and Kickapoo (354) finished in second, third and fourth place, respectively.
“This gives our freshmen some confidence,” Glendale head coach Chris Obert said following his team’s triumph. “We know we can win and we know in tournaments that we’re not the underdogs.”
Obert was also pleased by the fact that his group wasn’t fazed by the less-than-desirable elements invading the Ozarks on Monday. While many teams would have their hands full trying to battle moisture on the golf course thanks to an inconsistent rain, the Falcons were quite used to it.
And it played heavily into their favor.
“We practice in this stuff,” Obert said about the rain. “We don’t cancel practices as long as there’s no lightning. Going into it, each time that they get challenged with that type of adversity, it’s good for them to learn from it.”
Perhaps nobody was less affected by the iffy weather than Meek, who looked at the challenge as more of a minor speed bump than a potential wall.
“You could get some ‘mud balls’ out there,” Meek added. “It was definitely more difficult, but it wasn’t too bad. We got pretty lucky.”
At the end of the day, Glendale’s performance represented a myriad of positives for the Falcons and a bright red warning sign for everyone else. They may have lost some significant talent from last season, but Obert’s squad is still awfully good – and only getting better.
“We’re a young team and we’re learning,” Obert said. “Every time they go out they’re learning, so hopefully they’ll keep getting a little bit better each day. That’s our goal.”