Circle one: It’s the most wonderful/nervewracking time of the year.
That’s how the end of any sports season works, but it might be at an even more frantic pace in the spring.
Besides the normal ending of the season, you’ve got the end of the school year and the start of summer sports. That means seniors who haven’t made final college choices are starting to feel the pressure to decide what they’re going to do next year. It’s also a final chance for senior athletes to get that spot to keep playing sports.
Here are some of my thoughts on the current playoffs taking place.
Our golfers are playing in the MSHSAA Championships in Camdenton (Class 3) and Kansas City (Class 4) Monday and Tuesday. The Class 3 opening day had to be halted midway through the round due to storms.
Of area teams, St. Francis Borgia Regional is the only one in contention for a title. The Knights won everything up until the Class 3 sectional at their home course last week. Borgia actually had the better score than Priory through three golfers, but didn’t come through on the final two.
The top three Borgia golfers, Tommy Alferman, Will Schroeder and Zach Unnerstall, can play with anyone. It wouldn’t shock me to see one or more of them as an individual medalist. Alferman is a perfectionist. I’ve seen him work on his game after home meets until its gets too dark. Ever played golf when it’s so dark you can’t see the ball? It’s not easy. My brother-in-law Walt Chaboude and I played Holiday Golf Course in Panama City Beach last December until we had to give up on the fairway of the 18th hole because we couldn’t see where we were hitting anymore. The deer coming across the fairway a hole or two before should have been a tip that our time on the course was over.
As a team, Borgia is capable of playing with the best if it can get a fourth to contribute an outstanding score. We should know by the time the paper hits the street tomorrow if they have a shot at the team title.
There are some fantastic golfers from around the area in the individual portion of the state tournaments. Those include Pacific’s Cameron VanLeer, Union’s Josh Jones, Sullivan’s Bennett Tiefenbrunn and Washington’s Logan McPherson.
Just to get through the events, the golfers have had to compete under much different conditions than much of the season. Many of the meets were cold with short rough and different challenges. Now, we’re getting the heat, which is an issue for golfers carrying their own bags. Also, the rough is longer and the competition is much better. It’s a physical and mental challenge.
We’ve seen a little bit of a reduction in area golf this year, although I expect the youth programs to help develop players to fill those gaps. It’s odd to see Hermann, which won the Class 2 state title last year, not even send a golfer to state this year. The Bearcats didn’t have a full team for most of the season. Sullivan, another team with a good tradition, usually didn’t have enough for a team this year either.
While we have girls golf at some schools, two girls made the All-Four Rivers Conference second team this season. St. Clair’s Maria Bozada and St. James’ Payton Engelbrecht were honored by the conference. Another girl, St. Clair’s Jewel Woodcock, qualified for the sectional meet.
It would be interesting to see how they could do during the girls season in the fall rather than having to play with the boys.
There haven’t been many shocks so far in the baseball district tournaments.
St. Clair has been the feel-good story of the spring. The Bulldogs were seeded a bit too far down, sixth of six teams at Pacific’s Class 4 District 3. The Bulldogs came close to winning the FRC title this spring, but that fact must have escaped those seeding the tournament.
The Bulldogs upset FRC champion Union in the opening round, 4-0, on a gem by Mason Dodson. St. Clair probably should have finished off a win over No. 2 Borgia in the semifinals. St. Clair had Borgia on the ropes between starter Michael Hughes and reliever Sam Oermann. The Knights finally broke through to win in the bottom of the seventh Saturday, 6-5.
Borgia takes on Lutheran South probably while many of you are reading this. The Knights are a big underdog against the defending state runner-up.
Lutheran South cruised in its first game Saturday, beating Pacific, 16-6. The Lancers take the game seriously, starting with the luxury bus the team arrives at the game in to the method in which they dissect opposing pitchers and defenses.
Borgia has a chance, but needs a perfect game to advance past the district level.
There’s a wide gulf in the track postseason. We had a local meet at Pacific Saturday, one which didn’t have much of a crowd. However, most of the other Class 4 teams had to go all the way to Camdenton for their district meet against schools from the central part of the state and Springfield area.
It’s no easier this week as they have to go to Carthage for sectional action. That means some of the Washington High School athletes will have to skip their own graduation to be properly prepared for the sectional event.
Like golf, the district track meets were done under conditions much different than many of the in-season events. It was hot and humid, making it difficult to compete.
That makes Washington senior Mikayla Reed’s feat of winning three individual titles (800, 1,600 and 3,200) and one team event (3,200 relay) even more impressive. To do all of that in a one-day meet against top competition shows why she’s continuing her career next fall at Mizzou.
If Reed can do it again this Saturday, she’ll get a bit of a reprieve at the state meet, where the distance events are spread over two days.
Hopefully, Union’s Demetrius Clark and Borgia’s Daniel Leopold can advance past the sectional level. It would be interesting to see them fighting for the 400-meter dash final in Jefferson City.
New Haven qualifiers are heading to their state meet this weekend. The New Haven girls are a favorite to repeat as state champion in the team standings. John Tucker has a number of outstanding athletes who are seniors.
New Haven is Class 1 and the Class 2 meet also will take place this weekend.
I know it’s been asked why Class 3 doesn’t run with the two smaller classes, as is done in basketball. It would make more sense to have the three smallest classes together rather than try to cram the three largest classes into that stadium.
I’ve been told conference track meets are a reason the three largest classes run together. That made sense when the five-class system was started.
It’s time to band the lower three together and keep the second weekend to Classes 4 and 5. I would think the thunderstorm delays last year would have served as a wake-up call for that. It was a real mess in trying to clear the stadium. Some didn’t get out and were locked in makeshift shelters in restrooms. The change to make sure that stadium isn’t being overloaded has got to take place sooner rather than later.
As girls soccer hasn’t started as of this writing, I’ll touch on that later. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a team playing in Kansas City for the state tournament in early June. The best guess would be the winner of the Class 3 District 9 Tournament in Union. I wouldn’t be surprised if either Union or Washington wins. The meeting last time was a close one.
The only thing that plays against either one advancing is that the sectional will be a long road trip away and the quarterfinal could be an even longer trip. Washington had the benefit last year, hosting both the sectional and quarterfinal games and making the other teams travel. Washington was the better team in both games, but it certainly helped to have the playoffs at home rather than hitting the road.
And, while it’s an ending for high school sports, the American Legion and summer swim season is starting up. The Post 218 Freshman Legion Preseason Tournament this weekend ushers in the summer season. It should be a fun one.