by Michael Smith
For the first time in the history of the program, the Grain Valley boys golf team will compete in the Class 2 Missouri State High School Boys Golf Championships.
The event will begin Monday and will be at Meadow Lake Acres Country Club in New Bloomfield.
While Grain Valley has sent one or two golfers to state during some seasons, this is the first time the Eagles have qualified for the state tournament as a team.
That’s because the team is well balanced. Its No. 1 through 4 golfers can be the team’s leading scorer on any given day, head coach Andy Herbert said.
“We have taken a lot of individuals before but now we have a chance to have a team score at state,” Herbert said. “To be able to compete for a state title is pretty exciting.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re (No. 1 or No. 5), your score adds the same. It doesn’t matter what number you are, on any given day, any of these guys are capable of shooting a good score. Those guys have taken turns to be the guy that carried us.”
That was the role Owen Herbert and Connor Nadeau played for the Eagles last Monday in the Class 2 District 4 Tournament at Drumm Farm Golf Club.
Both shot an 82 to lead the team to a second place finish with a team score of 348, just two strokes behind first-place Sedalia Smith-Cotton.
Jaiden Wilson shot a 91 and Charles Aldred had a 93 to help the Eagles advance.
“It was something we set as a goal to start the year was to go to state as a team,” Owen Herbert said. “It’s pretty cool we did it all together. And this guy (Nadeau) stepped up in a big moment. It’s just pretty cool.”
Nadeau gets to make his first trip to state after missing the state cut by one stroke last season.
“I was confident because we have been playing well all season,” Nadeau said. “I knew my team was doing well so I knew I needed to step up and I ended up doing well on the back nine.”
“I am having more fun this year and not worrying about the score. I care a lot less about each hole and go out there and have fun.”
Andy Herbert also noted that his golfers putting in the work in the offseason was a big reason for the breakthrough year.
“We’ve built a culture of working hard and being in tournaments over the summer,” Andy Herbert said. “They bought into it. They have gotten better every year.”
Grain Valley will practice on the course before the tournament starts on Monday and finishes on Tuesday. The golfers will play 18 holes on each day on the challenging course.
“The greens are fair, but they are tough,” Herbert said. “Getting yourself in the right position on the green to give yourself a chance to make birdie putts is key on any course, but especially there. If you get it in the wrong place, you might have to three-put on a hole.”
For the Eagles, the goal is clear.
“I think the top four earn a trophy,” Owen Herbert said of the top four teams earning a state plaque. “That is a goal for us. But the pressure is all off. We already made it.”
“We will have to shoot two of our best scores of the year. I think we have it in us if we all go out there and focus and play. We have the talent for sure.”
From left: Connor Nadeau, Jaiden Wilson, Owen Herbert, and Charles Aldred will represent the Grain Valley boys golf team at the Missouri State High School Boys Golf Championships beginning Monday at Meadow Lake Acres Country Club in New Bloomfield.
Photo credit: Michael Smith
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