Golf Hornets' very good year ends prematurely
None able to place in top 18 of district tournament Monday
ST. JOSEPH — Although three came reasonably close, no Chillicothe High School golf Hornets had a good enough day on the Fairview Golf Course Monday to extend the team's strong 2021 season.
Undefeated in dual matches for the first time since the late 1970s, the Hornets hoped to cap their campaign with one or more players advancing to the Class 3 state tournament, but they could not make it happen.
On the same course they had played a week earlier in the Midland Empire Conference Championships and posted a solid 354 team score, on Monday, the Hornets' top four players came in with a 378 total which put them seventh among the 15 participating teams and without an 18-holes score better than 90, the rounds produced by top Hornet Colby Gillespie and freshman Jackson Trout.
When the 18th-best individual round of the day came in as an 88, that meant no Hornet had played well enough to earn one of the 18 state-tourney-qualifying berths up for grabs.
With the closing outing of his high school career – one cut short to three years by the COVID-19-caused cancellation of what would have been his junior year in 2020, Gillespie repeated his 2019 performance as the team's lowest scorer – by average. He had a final 2021 mark of just below 44 strokes per nine holes.
Trout's score in the last tournament was a couple of strokes below his season average for 18 holes. Because it was four shots lower than classmate James Mathew's district score of 94, it allowed Trout to overtake Matthew for the third-best average on the squad. Both finished within 15 total strokes for the season of No. 2 Hornet Spencer Shira. Senior Shira ended his season and CHS career with a 104 Monday.
The fifth member of the Chillicothe lineup, which didn't change all season, was another senior, Dalton Ripley. Perhaps a bit off-kilter due to a current health situation for a family member, his 119 Monday was his highest score of the season.
The district team champion, as was virtually assured beforehand, was St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond. Led by individual district champion Jeff Johnston's 1-under par 71 and with three of the four lowest individual scores of Monday's tourney, the Golden Eagles generated a low-4 team score of 301, a giant 48 shots ahead of runnerup Kirksville.
The only school to have at least four players qualify for state individually – it actually put all five in the top 18, Bishop LeBlond will go to the state tournament as a strong contender – likely even the favorite – for the Class 3 team crown.
It also should have multiple players in the hunt for the individual state championship, as well.