Central's seniors take one last stab at top-four trophy

Sunday, May 14, 2006

With four seniors representing the Tigers at the Class 4 state golf tournament, the time is now for Central to make its presence felt.

Central has not posted a top-four finish at the state tournament since winning the state title in 1964. The other top-four finish was a second-place finish in 1962.

After finishing the district tournament just three strokes behind last year's Class 4 runner-up Poplar Bluff, Central has to be considered a contender for a top finish at Deer Lake Golf Course in Springfield, Mo., when the state tournament begins Monday.

"It will be more difficult having only four of us, but stat-wise we have our best four," Central senior Blake Driskell said. "We can play with anyone as far as team-wise at state."

Driskell leads the senior foursome, returning to the state tournament for the fourth straight year. Kirk Lohmann is making his third straight appearance at the state tournament, while Robert Kaverman and Zach Kluesner will be making their first appearances.

"Experience is key at state," Lohmann said. "Most of the guys are used to the four or five tournaments we play in, but when you get to state it's a different story. Everything's exaggerated."

The Tigers have been posting low scores all season, and has an 18-hole team average of about 300 this season.

"With our average about 300, if we score that at state it would be close to first," Lohmann said.

Central's last appearance as a team at the state tournament came in 2004. The Tigers finished 10th of 16 teams.

"I always try to tell the guys you do the best you can and relax," Central coach Dick Wadlington said. "The hardest part is already done in getting up there."

All four Tigers golfers headed to state have nine-hole averages below 40, a first in Wadlington's 30 years as Central coach. Driskell's average of 35 is the lowest for any individual Wadlington has coached. Lohmann averages 37, Kluesner 38 and Kaverman 39.

"On a given day, all the kids have done well," Wadlington said. "We'll just have to go up there and play well, hopefully get some breaks and see what happens."

Rockhurst is the defending state champion. Poplar Bluff finished second last year, two strokes back. Springfield Glendale, which was the only team besides Poplar Bluff to defeat Central this year, finished fourth last year and should be among the favorites again this season.

"You know you're playing against the very best," Wadlington said. "It gives us a chance to see teams we normally don't play."

In Class 3, Notre Dame will send two players -- senior Brandon Holzum and freshman Brett Slaten -- to the Silo Ridge Golf and Country Club in Bolivar, Mo.

In Class 1, juniors Corey Brueckner and Zach Richardet will represent St. Vincent at Island Green Golf Course in Republic, Mo.

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