Step by step, Bruins’ golf has been getting closer to the state championship, and on Monday the team took another big step forward.
The Bruins won the sectional tournament at Old Kinderhook on Monday, which has earned them a ticket to the state championship May 18 and 19 in Sedalia. The Bruins won state last year and are looking to repeat.
“Our only thought going forward is winning,” senior Matt Echelmeier said. “We knew going into every tournament this year that we were the best team, and that confidence built up when we won every time. The postseason pressure might help us even more because we have a lot of guys that perform even better in the pressuring moments.”
The team ended sectionals with a total score of 308. Rock Bridge fought the battle well, despite a tough day due to rain and windy conditions.
“The team performed according to plan,” head coach Doug Daniels said. “They didn’t play very well by their standards, but it was still good enough to win pretty easily, and once again it was the lowest sectional score in the state of Missouri, too.”
On their way to the sectional tournament, the Bruins won their sixth consecutive district championship on Monday, May 4. Senior Jack Knoesel was a first place medalist shooting a 70; Echelmeier held a close second with a 71. Freshman Hudson Dubinski shot a 74, and senior Ben Humphreys shot an 80.
“I was feeling good,” Knoesel said. “I was hitting it well, so I had a lot of confidence.”
The Bruin’s district championship was a part of an undefeated season so far for Rock Bridge. Competitors have included Hickman, Jefferson City, Moberly and Helias.
Throughout the postseason so far, Echelmeier said Rock Bridge is the only team with a deep roster in and out.
“Jack Knoesel played great and got to claim district medalist,” Echelmeier said, “But it’s the other guys on the team that make us good. Hudson Dubinski’s 74 was really solid for his first postseason performance, and Stephen [Sowers, junior] shot a nice 77, as well. A lot of teams have good players in their number one and two slot, but we are the only team that has those really good players one through five.”
Others were also proud of the Bruins’ exemplary performance in that match. Combining for a total score of 292, they easily got the win at districts.
“We shot a team score of 292,” Daniels said, “which was very good. That was the lowest score for any team in any district in the state of Missouri, which has pretty much been the business as usual for this team.”
After this season, two of the team’s senior golf players are planning on taking separate routes for college. Knoesel will be leaving the state by committing to the University of Tulsa, while Echelmeier will stay in Columbia and play for Mizzou.
Knoesel gives his father due credit for helping him throughout his high school golf journey.
“He’s given me a lot of great advice in the past, and it has helped me get where I am now,” Knoesel said. “I wouldn’t be here without him.”
For providing him with great coaching throughout his high school career, Echelmeier gave Daniels a big shout out.
“Coach [Doug] Daniels is the best,” Echelmeier said. “There’s never a dull moment around him, and he’s developed me into a better player in the last three years. Over that time, he has helped me gain nearly 30 yards in driving distance.”
By Faaris Khan