There would have been no excuse for Warrenton sophomore Ethan Luecke not to finish among the top of the standings during last Thursday’s host invitational.
Having played the course hundreds of times since his childhood, he knows every troublesome hole and the challenges it entails. Fortunately, Luecke also knows how to escape those blunders.
Having struggled on a few early holes and fallen behind his usual pace, the Warriors’ No. 1 golfer realized it was time to assert himself on the back nine. He recovered to card a team-best 74, leading the Warriors to first place in the small-school division. Luecke was one of four Warrenton golfers to medal among the top 15.
The Warriors shot a 317, while second-place St. Charles recorded a 337.
“I lost my focus on a couple shots, but otherwise I felt like I did pretty good,” said Luecke. “I had several bogeys on the front nine and was able to make up for those with birdies on the back.”
Coach Rich Barton says Luecke’s ability to bounce back after a less-than-satisfactory start is a sign of his maturity as a golfer.
“He just needs to focus on getting the negative things out of his mind and let his natural instincts take over,” acknowledged Barton. “I think that is the one area that he has really improved on, not letting one side of the round dictate what happens on the other side.”
For a while, it appeared No. 2 golfer Chase Nelson was on pace to turn in the team’s lowest score.
“I started the day off great,” said Nelson. “But then on the back, I had a nine on a Par 5 and hit some out-of-bounds.”
The sophomore was four under after eight holes but faced some bunker trouble on the back nine to finish the day at 76.
“Coach (Mike) Holt and I both thought that he was capable of being a good varsity golfer,” acknowledged Barton. “It was just a matter of him getting some valuable experience. His next step is to put it together for a full 18 holes ... He has improved a great deal this season and is exciting to watch.”
Junior T.J. Lafaver shot a 79 in the No. 3 spot, a 10-stroke improvement over his round at the same event a year ago.
“I was super glad to see TJ shoot in the 70’s for 18 holes, and I think he is on the brink of a breakout round,” said Barton.
Lone senior Tyler Romaker also medaled, shooting an 88 in the No. 4 position.
Sophomore Luke Hawley carded a 97 at No. 5.
Barton says the outcome was fairly in line with what he had anticipated.
“The (scores) were pretty close to where I thought they would fall,” said Barton. “I know they are never satisfied with their rounds, but that just shows how competitive they really are. They know they leave a few shots out on the course and that always digs at you.”
Barton says the ability of at least three players to shoot in the 70s is pivotal entering conference and district tournament time.
“It’s very crucial because it seems like that our four and five positions haven’t really been consistent, but they have proven that they can put up a low score,” said Barton. “At this time of year, it is about all being good on the same day if the team wants to advance.”