By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
JOPLIN, Mo. – The Greenwood golf team has won so many district championships in a row that the exact number was something of a question on Monday.
“Yeah, it’s five or six,” said senior John Sharp. “I haven’t been on the short end. I’ve won four district titles at Greenwood so it’s been nice.”
So is it six in a row?
“I believe so,” head coach Dylan Bekemeier said. “I know John, who’s a senior, said he hasn’t lost a district championship his whole four years.”
Indeed it is six straight for the Blue Jays, who posted a team score of 366 to win the Class 1 District 2 tournament at Schifferdecker Golf Course in Joplin.
Sharp led all golfers with an 80 on the par-71 course, fending off Spokane’s Christian Cooper by one stroke for individual honors.
“It means a lot,” he said. “I’ve been playing all four years so I’ve seen older kids win it each year and I kept getting closer and closer. Sophomore year and junior year I was All-District and this year coming out and winning it means a lot to me.”
Sharp finished fourth last year and tied for sixth as a sophomore.
He carded a 40 on both the front and back nine holes despite hitting balls in the water on the first and 10th holes, both times with his 2-iron.
“So that one was basically garbage the whole day,” he said. “Definitely my wedges and putting were the highlights of my game today.”
Bekemeier said Sharp’s score should have been even better.
“I hate saying that but it should have been,” he said. “He had three holes he could have definitely done better on which is a positive in a sense because he made very atypical mistakes. It wasn’t like him. Seeing that he shot an 80 and played about as bad as he could have today, I think 80’s the highest he could have shot today. Obviously it was good enough to win and I know he’s not settling just to win stuff like this, he still wants to get better.”
Three Greenwood golfers finished in the top 15 to earn All-District honors. In addition to Sharp, Zachary Bailey tied for seventh at 89 and Aidan McQueary finished 10th at 90. Spencer Van McClure finished in 19th place at 107.
“We’ve had a little bit of a struggle, our last three weeks probably we’ve been struggling to get our third and fourth scores rounded in but today we got them,” Bekemeier said. “Which was a great time, especially with their being no stroke limit. Our kids played smart today and kept the scores low.”
He said Van McClure cut roughly 10 strokes off his score, and Bailey, a freshman, was playing in his first postseason event for golf.
Joplin’s McAuley Catholic, meanwhile, finished 18 strokes back in second place with a score of 384. The top two teams qualify for next week’s sectional tournament.
McAuley, which finished fifth last year in the district, was led by Miller Stephens’ 84, which tied him for third. Arthur Vajeepiyanantanon finished 12th with a 93 to earn All-District honors. Jake Staton was 16th at 102, Nathan Taylor was 18th at 105 and Joseph Lupicki tied for 22nd at 111.
“The boys worked hard,” McAuley coach Mike Howard said. “We returned everyone from last year and we added another piece with senior Nathan (Taylor). He hasn’t played golf for us for the full three years because he’s played baseball but I allowed him to play both sports this year and he’s really helped us out, too, to give us a bump and push us over the edge.”
Howard said Stephens has been the team’s catalyst all spring, along with Arthur “V.” The two go back and forth in the top two spots for the Warriors.
“They’re really what make this team go,” Howard said. “They’re both seniors and they lead by example.”
Other players finishing in the top 15 were Spokane’s Christian Cooper (2nd–81), Thomas Jefferson’s Owen D’Amour (T3rd–84), Thomas Jefferson’s Aaron Wells (5th–86), New Covenant’s Brayden Emmert (6th–88), Thomas Jefferson’s Luke Kirk (T7th–89), Galena’s Dawson Reid Sherer (T7th–89), Spokane’s Jackson Bray (11th–92), New Covenant’s Jacob Oakley (13th–99), Pierce City’s Ahston Medlin (T14th–100) and College Heights’ Ethan Satterlee (T14th–100).
In addition to the top two teams, the top 15 individuals not on a qualifying team also qualify for the sectional tournament. Additional qualifiers were College Heights’ William Ellis Secker (17th–103), Spokane’s Peyton Bonzer (20th–108), Pierce City’s Treyton Wayne Sagehorn (21st–110), New Covenant’s Joseph Schaeffer (T22nd–111) and Purdy’s Randy Schad (24th–114).