2017 state qualifier Hallie Jones back as a sophomore, along with three returning seniors

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

A small, but veteran and accomplished, squad should represent Chillicothe (Mo.) High School with distinction in girls’ golf this fall.

2017 state tournament qualifier Hallie Jones, only a sophomore, heads up a group of four returning 2017 varsity regulars. Also on hand will be seniors Maddie Lamp, Hannah Haakonstad, and Riley Brobst.

“We’re kind of short on numbers, but the (players) we have are really good,” Bob Long, returning head coach, acknowledged of his 6-players roster in a recent chat about the upcoming campaign that is slated to begin Monday at Maryville’s Mozingo Lake Recreation Golf Course.

That’s a location Long hopes to take his team back to in mid-October, because it will be the host course for the Class 1 state tournament.

Last fall, CHS individually qualified all five of its district-tournament entrants – including Jones, Lamp, and Haakonstad – for the state-qualifying sectional tournament. This year, advancement to sectional and beyond by capture of one of the two team-qualifying berths figures to be the aim.

“We’d love to do that (have everyone advance past district) again this year and maybe even get a chance to take them to state,” affirms Long. “Hallee made it to state last year and we’d love to take more than one to state this year, so we’re going to keep working and see if we can’t accomplish some of those things.”

In addition to the four veterans, Long is working with sophomore Gabby Hapes and freshman Saige Angst. Heading into the opener, Hapes has a handle on the fifth and final spot in the varsity lineup, he reports.

“We’re looking pretty solid, except for the short numbers,” the coach assesses.

Jones enters 2018 school-year play not only off a state-qualifying showing as a frosh in 2017, when her 9-holes scoring average of 46.4 led the Lady Hornets by several strokes, but after a busy and successful summer, as well.

She played in six Missouri Golf Association “junior” tournaments around the state and another handful of local tournaments around this area and western Missouri. She won her division in four of the five regional tourneys she played.

“Just an excellent, very smart player,” Long summarizes the sophomore’s game. “She just makes all the right decisions.”

Ironically, of the three senior veterans who return with Jones, the one who had last year’s second-best scoring average on the team wasn’t even part of the group of five sectional-tournament qualifiers.

Riley Brobst actually shot a lower score than Jones in one dual match last season – carding a team-best 46 at Lawson, but wasn’t in the varsity lineup that day. After one tough tournament very early in the season, she came on to easily have the second-best average most of the season, finishing with a 50.1 strokes per nine average.

The third-best 2017 average belonged to Lamp at just over 53 shots per nine. Although never able to shoot below 50 for a 9-holes match or stay in double digits for an 18-holes tourney, Lamp twice did shoot exactly 100 in tourneys, including district.

Rounding out the veterans group is Haakonstad, who opened and closed her 2017 season  strong with a 49 in the opening dual at Trenton and finishing with a team’s second-best 102 at sectional. However, a couple of tough days in tournaments kept her season scoring average inflated, finishing at 56 strokes per nine holes.

Says the coach of the senior trio, “They want to finish their senior year strong, so they’re all competing hard and getting out there and working at it.

“I’m looking forward to what they’re going to do in their final year in high school.”

Of the returning players as a whole, Long comments, “They’re looking pretty good.”

This year’s Chillicothe schedule has seen participation in the early-September Platte County Invitational tournament with a match against new Midland Empire Conference member Kansas City: St. Pius X (replacing Smithville). St. Pius did not have a team a year ago.

Otherwise, CHS’ slate will be much the same as a year ago.

This season’s MEC Tournament, scheduled for Sept. 24, will occur at the St. Joseph Country Club, Long reveals. He expects Maryville, last year’s champion and eventual fifth-place team (out of eight) at state, to be difficult to dethrone, but foresees his Lady Hornets having a chance to grab at least second place.

If Chillicothe doesn’t end up being the site of either the district or sectional tournaments at season’s end, it will have only two home appearances – a double-dual against Putnam County and Trenton next Thursday (Aug. 30) at 4 p.m. and the annual CHS Invitational Tournament Sept. 20.