By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It wasn’t exactly the start the Stillwater High School boys golf team was looking for to open the season, but after a jittery start the Pioneers settled down and finished ninth as a team at the Stillwater Invitational Monday at Lakeside Golf Course.
“We didn’t quite as well as I thought we would,” Stillwater coach Larry Hesler said. “I thought we would have some 70s come in. We had good scoring conditions when these guys went off, so we probably should have shot a little bit lower. But it’s the first of the year and we’ve got two months to get ready for the regional tournament, so they now know what they have to work on.”
Led by sophomore Gabe Gudgel, Stillwater carded a 332 to finish 16 strokes behind eventual champion Oklahoma Christian School. Gudgel finished with an 81 in his first varsity tournament — including a 36 on the back nine.
“I did terrible on the first nine,” Gabe Gudgel said. “I shot a 45 with a seven on the last hole. At the turn I just said, I had to get my act together and make something good of this round. I went 3-under on the first four and finally got myself back into it. I kind of let it slip away on 15 and 16, but I did pretty good on the last two holes. I’m just pumped that I did pretty good for my first varsity tournament.”
“It’s tough when you’ve blown up on the front and you’ve got to fix it on the back,” Hesler said. “He did a really good job there. He’s going to put two rounds together and he’s going to be really, really good as we go through this season. I was glad to see him turn it around.”
Oklahoma Christian took the team title, edging Edmond Memorial by one stroke with a team score of 316, while the Bulldogs’ Jacob Prentice took the individual title with a 72.
Along with Gudgel, senior Nathaniel Lauvetz carded an 82 while fellow senior Chris Weir turned in an 84. Junior Marc Majors recorded an 85 and Troy Fort rounded out the varsity scoring with an 88.
“(Lauvetz) is going to have to bring his score down a little bit but he did a good job,” Hesler said. “They’re all working really hard this year. We’re working hard, trying to improve and that’s the main thing. I was proud of a couple of sophomore coming up — they led the team in scoring. We’ve got some good youngsters, I think Nathaniel is going to be right there and I think with his senior leadership we have what it takes to get back to the state tournament.”
With the first round of the season in the books, Gudgel and the Pioneers hope to continue to build for the rest of the season, beginning with next Monday’s trip to Ponca City.
“It’s definitely something we can build on,” Gudgel said. “I feel like we can do better as a team. This was just the first one, so we’ve got a lot more to go. I’d just love to make it to state as a team and I think we will eventually continue to get better as the season goes along.”