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Four Blair Oaks players qualify for state tourney

by Greg Jackson | May 16, 2022 at 12:36 a.m.

Last week in the Class 3 boys golf district tournament, there were four district champions and four district runners-up that automatically qualified for the state tournament. But there will be nine teams participating in the state tournament.

That’s because the Blair Oaks Falcons are crashing the party.

Blair Oaks qualified four individuals from last Monday’s district tournament, allowing the Falcons to advance as a team to the Class 3 state tournament, which will be held today and Tuesday at Sedalia Country Club.

“Sedalia is a good course,” Blair Oaks coach Lester Elder said. “One of my sons played on it during his state championship. It’s a challenging course, but it’s one you can actually score on.”

Blair Oaks placed third in the District 2 Tournament at Washington with a team score of 355, trailing Father Tolton (303) and Southern Boone (352).

After Father Tolton and Southern Boone advanced as teams, the remaining top 12 individuals from the district advanced to state.

“Everybody was anxious to see what the cut line was going to be,” Elder said. “We were all outside by the leaderboard, and I was trying to do the math.”

Dylan Bryan comfortably advanced for Blair Oaks, tying for 11th overall with an 85. The cut line would be a 90, a score shared by five players in the district.

Blair Oaks’ Todd Bisges, Chase Distler and JJ Quehl all made it right on the cut line, giving the Falcons four state qualifiers to make them eligible to advance to state as a team.

“We had that discussion, before and afterwards, about how every stroke makes a difference,” Elder said. “Even if you’re having a bad hole, that one stroke you save may make a difference between our team winning and losing.

“That was a good lesson learned. Every stroke mattered, and we barely squeaked in as a team.”

Sam Kliethermes shot a 95 at districts to fall short of qualifying for state. However, it goes to show the Falcons’ consistency this season, as only 10 strokes separated Blair Oaks’ best score from its worst score at districts.

“We’ve got the ability as a team to score well as a whole,” Elder said. “It’s just a matter of getting the nerves out.”

Bryan, Bisges and Quehl are returning state qualifiers for Blair Oaks. Bryan tied for 36th place out of 71 individuals last season, while Bisges tied for 39th and Quehl finished 62nd. Distler will be making his state tournament debut this week.

“The big goal individually is to make all-state,” Elder said.

Elder has been a spectator at several state championships, watching his sons Levi and Tanner golf for the Falcons. This will be his first time attending as a coach.

“I kind of know what to expect to help prepare the boys,” Elder said. “We’ve talked about this all year long: Your opponent is really par, not the guy playing against you.

“The pressure is greater, but if you can just stay in your own mindset and realize the course hasn’t changed, that’s what we’re focusing on with the mental game.”

Elder said the Falcons’ goal is to finish in the top three at state. Blair Oaks took third place last season.

“The good thing about qualifying for state but not playing your best (at districts) is you know you had a lot of strokes out there, you can improve,” Elder said. “… I think they’re going to have better opportunities to score at Sedalia than they did at Franklin County Country Club.”

Other Class 3 state-qualifying teams include Bishop LeBlond, Dexter, Logan-Rogersville, Maryville, Monett and Ste. Genevieve. Bishop LeBlond is the defending state champion.

III

Southern Boone will send four golfers to today’s Class 3 state tournament.

Jacob Anderson finished fourth at districts with an 80 to lead the Eagles. Adam Wiseman was seventh with an 82, Noah Wilde tied for 18th with a 90 and Trenton Hargis was 30th with a 100.

Only the top four players from a district champion or a district runner-up automatically qualify for state. For a fifth player to advance, he would have to finish in the top 12 of the remaining individuals at districts.

Anderson is the Eagles’ only returning state qualifier from last season. He tied for 24th place in Class 3 last season.

Wiseman tied for 64th at state as a freshman in 2019.

The Eldon Mustangs will have two golfers playing in the Class 3 state tournament.

Teagan Hull placed fifth out of 67 individuals last Monday in the District 3 Tournament at Eldon Golf Club, shooting a 79.

Luke Barchenski tied for 13th at districts with an 88 for the Mustangs, making the cut for state by one stroke.

Hull is a returning state qualifier, tying for 15th place to earn all-state honors.

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