With trio in top eight, Chillicothe (Mo.) HS golf Hornets grab tourney crown

Gillespie, frosh pair pace title win at Cameron Wednesday (April 7, 2021)

As reported to C-T
Freshman James Mathew of the undefeated Chillicothe High School golf Hornets watches his drive as he completes his follow-through during this past Tuesday’s home dual-match win over Lawson. Mathew, No. 3 player in the CHS lineup, tied for fifth in the individual standings of Wednesday’s Cameron Invitational Tournament with an 18-holes round of 85.

CAMERON — Entering their first tournament competition owning wins in each of their first seven dual matches of 2021, the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS golf Hornets not only didn’t miss a step Wednesday (April 7), they upped their game.

Coming off a 170 team score – the program’s best in dual play in five years – on their home course the afternoon before, the Hornets hit the Cameron Veterans Memorial Golf Course they’d begun their season on a couple of weeks earlier Wednesday morning and promptly placed three individuals – two of them freshmen – among the top eight on the scoreboard to capture the Cameron Invitational Tournament crown by a solid 15 strokes.

“Our team continued its roll,” observed Jim Wheeler, Hornets sixth-year coach, succinctly.

Paced by senior Colby Gillespie’s 9-over-par 80, third-best round of the tourney, the Hornets posted a low-4 team score of 343, comfortably in front of runnerup St. Joseph: Lafayette’s 358.

While only Lawson’s Jack Evans and Richmond’s Timmy Hamilton – each firing 76s – needed fewer swings to get around the course on an off-and-one wet day than Gillespie, it again was lineup depth which put the Hornets at the front of the line.

Ninth grader James Mathew, No. 3 man in the Chillicothe lineup all season, shot a steady-as-she-goes 42-43–85 to share fifth place in the medalist standings with Cameron’s top man, Brady Stice, while classmate Jackson Trout toured the layout in 45-42–87 to match Higginsville’s Hunter McCoy for eighth place.

As if that wasn’t enough, the top golfer just outside the top 10 was a fourth Hornet, senior Spencer Shira, with a 91 that was about five shots over his season average.

“There were a few heavy showers, but the guys were prepared and handled the conditions really well,” Wheeler praised.

Even Chillicothe’s fifth lineup member, senior Dalton Ripley, was on his game, posting his best 2021 round thus far with a 99 (52-47) that had him right in the middle of the 52-players pack.

Gillespie began the tournament having used just one less shot in the first four competitions of this spring than classmate Shira, who earned the No. 1 spot in the lineup with his preseason practice rounds.

Just as he did in the team’s double-dual win on the same course late last month, Gillespie had the better day Wednesday, firing a 41 on the front nine and a 39 on the back nine for his season-best 80. He had begun the day with an average of 86 strokes per 18 and cut exactly two strokes off of it.

Shira had a bit more difficulty, but still was good, carding a steady 45-46 for a 91 that left his season average at 88 shots per 18.

The pair of ninth graders brought in 18-holes averages in the mid 90s, but far surpassed them in a positive direction.

Mathew’s 85 was 11 strokes to the good and trimmed almost four shots off his prior average. Trout’s 87 was seven better than his average and brought his 18-holes average a shade below 92.

Chillicothe’s low-4 team score was 39 shots fewer than their most-recent performance (2019) in the tournament and was over 100 strokes better than the year before that. It also was the Hornets’ lowest tourney score since having a 341 in their own Chillicothe Invitational five years back.

The golf Hornets’ next event is slated to be a dual at Brookfield on Monday.