The past two springs have provided true tests of character for Warrenton sophomore Ethan Luecke, who once again found himself on the verge of achieving a goal.
After shooting a 151 over the course of two days at the Class 3 MSHSAA Golf Championships, Luecke fell one stroke shy of earning a state medal.
He finished 16th overall, recording a 78 on Monday before bouncing back with a 73 on the second day of competition at the par 72 Rivercut Course in Springfield.
“I felt like I did all I could,” said Luecke. “I know there’s a few strokes I left out there, but I’m happy with how I played.”
Luecke found himself left out of the top 15, which would have claimed him all-state honors.
But it wasn’t his first brush with disappointment, and he’s not about to let it derail his outlook for the next two seasons.
“Next year I’m going to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” asserted Luecke. “The (adversity) has made me more determined.”
Coach Rich Barton will admit he tends to wear the emotions of his athletes.
But the disappointment has become almost too much to bear over the past two seasons. For a second consecutive year, Barton walked away heartbroken for his No. 1 golfer.
“Unfortunately, golf doesn’t pick favorites,” lamented Barton. “The sport is such an emotional roller coaster.”
Barton says he never expected a 151 would land outside of the top 15.
“It’s amazing how low the scores were this year,” said Barton, who noted Luecke’s mark would have earned him a medal in any of the other three classes.
“The way I look at it is, Ethan didn’t lose. He just didn’t win it.”
After one stroke made the difference last year and left him sitting at home during the state meet, Luecke cleaned up the accolades as a sophomore. By season’s end, just one goal evaded him.
“I had a lot of accomplishments this year, getting second in conference and winning districts,” said Luecke. “I did everything I wanted to except for being all-state.”
Barton says Luecke’s turnaround on Tuesday was remarkable. He countered four bogeys with three birdies, carding a 34 on the front nine and 39 on the back.
“He’s so mentally tough and disciplined,” said Barton. “He knew he had to shoot a low score to get back in contention, and we really thought (a 73) would be good enough. I was so proud of the way he came back and fought through.”
On Monday he carded a 39 on both the back and front nine. Luecke says he wasn’t hitting the fairways consistently, so he decided to make a change in his club selection on Tuesday.
“On the first day my tee shots were all over the place, so I went with a 3-wood the second day, and I started hitting down the middle almost every time,” said Luecke.
He recovered a couple of strokes on Monday by recording an eagle on hole No. 18 and finished up strong again on Tuesday with a birdie on his final hole.
“I don’t know what my deal was, because usually on the last couple of holes I start thinking about my score and get nervous,” said Luecke. “This time I wasn’t worried about it and kept my composure.”
The tournament’s lowest score was recorded by Dylan Bekemeier of Republic, who shot a 72 and 68 for a combined 140.
Borgia claimed the team title with a 609, while MICDS came in one stroke behind.