Owls shut out of state tournament
ST. JOSEPH -- Little went right for the Marshall boys' golf team Monday at the Class 3, District 8 Tournament in St. Joseph.
Fairview Golf Course is a tough place to play for high school golfers, and its difficulty was compounded by several factors -- including long fairway grass which hadn't been mowed in five days and soggy conditions from the recent rainfall. Further, only half the course was available for the competitors at a time -- the front nine remains open to the public, unlike most any other tournament.
District coaches, at least not from one of the three NCMC teams, also voted to play the ball "up," which Marshall's Erek Dusenberry believed gave an advantage to players from the northwest part of the state more familiar with the course.
"Even with all of this, the Owls just didn't handle the course or the conditions well," Dusenberry admitted after watching his club place seventh out of nine teams with a 338. "Golf is such a mental game and, for the first time this year, I felt like we didn't feel good going into competition."
Not only were the Owls unable to return to the MSHSAA Championships as a team -- as they did two years ago, with three of the five current starters then in the lineup -- but they were shut out in individual qualifying, too.
The strongest run for a state berth was made by sophomore Cody Dusenberry, who had never played an official round at Fairview. Dusenberry birdied his first hole, but a pair of double bogeys put him at 42 at the turn.
He was two over par through six holes coming in, but bogies on two of the three finishing holes put him at 82 for 18th place -- two strokes and three spots from qualifying.
"I knew at the time, with the way the scores were coming in, that he needed to par in for 80 to earn a trip to state," explained Dusenberry, his coach and father.
Junior Connor Lamberson had his moments, but couldn't cash in often enough -- such as on the first hole, when he got on the green of a par five in two, then three-putted -- to post an 82.
"This kind of set the tone for his day," Dusenberry said. "He would hit some good shots, but have a mistake that cost him more than a stroke."
Sophomore Cole Simmons also shot 82 to tie for 22nd place, shooting 39 on the front nine. Senior Ryan Teel birdied No. 10 the second time around, but was penalized for hitting outside the tee on the next hole and suffered a seven which doomed his bid to comeback from a 43 going out.
Junior Nick Fowler "never got it going," according to Dusenberry, and struggled to a 90.
Kearney put three golfers in the top 15 to win the team title at 317 -- four strokes ahead of Savannah and Chillicothe, which saw sophomore Logan Gilliland earn individual honors with a two-over 72.
The Owls didn't do much better three days earlier at the Richmond Tournament, where Shirkey Golf Course -- rated the state's most challenging public links -- was made more treacherous by cold and rainy weather.
Once again, Dusenberry topped Marshall with an 82, putting him in 34th place. Lamberson followed with an 83, Teel and Fowler put up 84s and Simmons came in with a 91.
The Owls scored 333 to place 13th among 21 teams, led by Blue Springs at 307 -- nine points better than St. Joseph-Central and Park Hill, whose Ryne Kleoppel shot a one-over 72 for the title.
"This is a very tough golf course and field," Dusenberry observed. "Adding in the weather element, the number fired by the Owls was not bad."
Marshall's season will come to an end Thursday, when they go to Moberly for the NCMC Tournament.