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Par for the course: Boys golf living up to expectations, hopes for repeat

Dialed in: Junior Stephen Sowers watches as the ball he just putted rolls toward the hole. Sowers was a key member of last year’s varsity golf team that won state in Class Four, Sowers shot 170 at state to finsish 51st, and his experience from last year will be crucial for the Bruins to repeat as state champs. Photo by Brianne Arnett.
Dialed in: Junior Stephen Sowers watches as the ball he just putted rolls toward the hole. Sowers was a key member of last year’s varsity golf team that won state in Class Four, Sowers shot 170 at state to finsish 51st, and his experience from last year will be crucial for the Bruins to repeat as state champs. Photo by Brianne Arnett.

On April 22, the Bruins blew HHS and BHS out of the water, shooting a combined 334, beating the Spartans by 11 strokes and the Kewpies by 38 strokes. What makes the defeat of their crosstown foes even more impressive is that seniors Jack Knoesel, Matt Echelmeier and Ben Humphreys were not in the lineup that day for the Bruins.

Thus far through the regular season, the Bruins varsity golf team has won every tournament and match they have played. RBHS boy’s golf enters the state playoffs May 4 behind the strength of their two powerhouse seniors, Knoesel and Echelmeier, experienced depth in Humphreys and junior Stephen Sowers and in rising star freshman Hudson Dubinski. The Bruins’ success isn’t an accident. Last year, the Bruins captured the Class Four state title and hope to repeat as champions.

“I definitely think we work hard and that is probably the reason why,” Echelmeier said. “Out of the summer a lot of teams just do their own thing, but golf is a big part of our lives even out of season.”

The team also draws inspiration from one of their classmates who doesn’t golf, but is known for athletic accomplishments on the basketball hardwood.

“Well, you know, we’ve gotten a lot of motivation from Sophie Cunningham,” Knoesel said. “She has done so great in basketball that we really want to follow in her footsteps and kind of see if we can rise up to her height because she has done a really great job in everything she does so we want to emulate her success.”

Cunningham was recently named Miss Show-Me Basketball and was named a McDonald’s All-American along with winning four state titles during her high school career as a Bruin.

Part of what makes the Bruins such a solid team is experience. Both Knoesel and Echelmeier are two-time individual state medalists and Humphreys and Sowers were key members of last years team.

“Last year’s experience helps us calm the nerves,” Knoesel said. “[It] makes it a little easier to get off the first tee, so I think that’s the biggest impact the experience has is handling the nerves.”

The only member of the team lacking experience is Dubinski, but he makes up for it in confidence.

“Hudson is a really great golfer,” Knoesel said. “He is one of our rising stars. I’m really proud of Hudson. He just goes out everyday and tries his best. It really can’t get much better than Hudson. Hudson’s confidence is off the charts. Hudson is motivated by the colloquial term, his swag; he really has a lot of confidence.”

In the match against HHS and BHS, Dubinksi shot an even-par 71, to lead all scores. Dubinski accredits part of his success to the mentorship of Knoesel and Echelmeier.

“[Knoesel and Echelmeier’s] leadership is very good,” Dubinski said. “And it helps me out a lot.”

In districts the Bruins will face off against BHS, HHS, Camdenton and Jefferson City among others. With districts and the rest of the postseason the goal is simple.

“We haven’t lost yet and I feel like this is one of the best teams we’ve ever had,” Knoesel said. “I know we’re all going to try our hardest and I think the only people that can beat us are ourselves. My whole goal whenever I go to a tournament is to win it so I’m not going to say I’m going to win but I expect myself to play well enough to win. I’m not going to bag on anyone, but districts isn’t really our worry.”

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