Area golfers prepare for one last tournament

It was a season of firsts for the Blair Oaks golf team.

But another first will have to wait at least one more year.

The Falcons won their first district title in program history this year, but came up two strokes shy of qualifying for state as a team. For the second straight year, the Falcons will settle for a nice consolation prize, sending two individuals on to state.

Sophomore Kory Franks and freshman Tanner Elder will represent the Falcons in the Class 2 state golf tournament which begins today at Fremont Hills Country Club in Nixa.

“We came so close, just a couple strokes away from being there as a team,” Blair Oaks coach Leroy Bernskoetter said. “But again, being young like that, I think that inexperience still cost us. Those seniors had really only had barely two years of high school golf.”

The youngest of the young are continuing their season.

It’s the second straight appearance at state for Franks, while Elder is making his first appearance at the state tournament. The two were Blair Oaks’ most consistent golfers this season.

Franks shot a 2-under-par 70 and was medalist at the district tournament, while Elder finished third with a 74.

“This year Kory’s been a little more consistent,” Bernskoetter said. “Both those two have a lot of self discipline. They work very hard at their game. Tanner for being a freshman ... he’s solid mentally. He doesn’t get shaken. He doesn’t lose his composure. That’s pretty unique for someone his age.”

Franks was just outside the top 10 at state last year, finishing in 11th with a two-round total of 157. Bernskoetter said he had one tough hole which likely cost him four or five places.

Bernskoetter said he believes Franks has a good shot to make the top 10 this year.

While some nerves are to be expected for Elder in his first year at state, he doesn’t have to look too far for advice, as older brother Levi qualified for state last season for the Falcons.

Sunday’s practice round was the first time the two had a chance to play the course.

“It’s going to be a good experience for him,” Bernskoetter said of Elder. “We’ll just see how well they do. It’s just going to be a good learning experience. If they both do well, they have a chance to get into the top 10.”

Elder and Franks will be joined by a pair of familiar foes. Southern Boone’s Walker Kesterson and Blake Lammers also qualified. Lammers shot an even-par 72 at the sectional meet to take home medalist honors, while Kesterson was second with a 74.

Other area golfers who will compete in Class 2 include Fatima’s Connor Muenks, who shot a 78 at sectionals. Ryan Doerhoff and Drew Geritz of Eugene also qualified. Doerhoff shot an 80 at sectionals while Geritz finished with an 82.

III

The youth movement in high school golf continued over at Jefferson City High School.

Jays freshman Gabe Trowbridge will represent Jefferson City in the Class 4 state golf tournament beginning today at Rivercut Golf Course in Springfield.

“I expected Gabe to get to state because he’s a competitor,” Jefferson City coach Randy Bickel said.

Bickel said before the season started he saw potential for Trowbridge to be in the mix at the end of the season. Trowbridge shot an 82 at the district meet before posting an 84 during last week’s sectional at the Eagle Knoll Golf Club to become the first Jefferson City golfer to reach the state tournament since the Jays made it as a team in 2009.

Trowbridge was part of an improving Jefferson City squad this season. The Jays pushed four golfers through to sectionals, enough to post a team score. The fourth-place finish at districts was five places higher than the previous season.

“We made progress from the previous year,” Bickel said. “I was pleased with them in some regards, in other regards I thought that we didn’t really reach our potential. Some of the players were better than what they really showed in districts and sectionals. It was a learning experience and overall I was really pleased with them.”

Trowbridge has never played Rivercut before, but Bickel has, and the coach hopes it can provide and advantage for Trowbridge. Bickel said the two spent last week going over certain shots the course provides.

“Fortunately I know the course extremely well and we’ve talked about the golf course, how to play each and every hole,” Bickel said. “He’s going to play his practice round this weekend so he can find out first-hand. We’ve worked on some of the more difficult chip shots of that nature that he may encounter down there.”

III

The Class 1 state golf tournament and Tipton High School are starting to become synonymous.

The Cardinals won their district and sectional tournaments to advance to state for the fourth straight season.

Led by Ethan Koechner, who was second in both districts and sectionals, the Cardinals tee off today at Silo Ridge Golf Club in Bolivar.

Other Tipton golfers include Branden Boehlen, Beau Bookout, Jacob Buschjost and Hayden Eichelberger.

The Cardinals have some experience as Koechner, Eichelberger and Bookout all took part in last year’s event. Koechner finished ninth last year. His second-round 73 was tied for the lowest of the tournament. The Cardinals were sixth last year with a 685.

Ridge Martin of New Bloomfield, Zach Kucsik of Linn and Chandler Wolf of Russellville will compete as individuals in the Class 1 tournament. Martin shot a 95 at sectionals while Wolf shot an 86. Kucsik shot an 82.

Just one area golfer advanced in Class 3, as Eldon’s Braden Atkinson will compete today at the Sedalia Country Club. Atkinson tied for 17th at sectionals after shooting an 83.

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