by Michael Smith
Grain Valley golfer Owen Herbert had to be on his game.
Throughout Day 2 of the Class 4 Missouri State High School Boys Golf Championships Tuesday at Meadow Lake Acres, the junior said it was in the back of his mind that he was in contention for an all-state honor.
“When I looked up at the scores, I saw my name shoot up the leaderboard,” Herbert said. “It was pretty cool when I saw that.”
He went from 18th place after shooting a 78 on Monday, to jumping all the way up to 11th after notching a 76 on Tuesday for a total score of 154, making him the first Eagles golfer to earn all-state honors since Shane Collins did in 2005 (the top 15 golfers in each Class earn all-state honors).
“When they called me up to the front with everyone watching, it was a pretty surreal moment,” Herbert said of when he got his state medal.
Herbert and the rest of his squad finished seventh out of eight teams with a team score of
671. Jaiden Wilson was 63rd after shooting a two-day score of 171, Charles Aldred was 68th with a 173 and Connor Nadeau was also 68th with a 173.
“It was a great experience and three of the guys who competed will be back next year,” Grain Valley head boys golf coach Andy Herbert said. “The experience was invaluable for them. To see your team score up there when only eight teams from the state in your class get there is a special thing.”
“The guys played well the first day and the second day wasn’t as good. But Day 2 is a different animal, and you wouldn’t know why unless you experience it. Any time there it’s championship day, there is just a different feel to it.”
Owen Herbert had some challenges on his way to becoming all-state, but he was able to overcome them. On Hole 13, he drove a shot into the trees on the right and on his second shot he kept it in the trees. He ended up getting a bogey from there to help maintain his pace for a good score on a hole that could have kept him out of the top 15.
“If I could have dropped the ball (and taken a one-stroke penalty), I would have lost a lot of momentum.” the junior said. “I made a long putt from the green to save bogey. That jump started my round and I played well from there.”
Overall, Owen Herbert was consistent throughout the tournament.
“Day 1 was a scramble day,” he said. “I wasn’t driving the ball great, but I was able to make some key puts to keep my head in the round. Day 2, I hit the ball a lot better. My wedge and my putter were key for me and I made some big puts here and there and really kept the momentum going.”
And while earning all-state honors was a big moment for him, that wasn’t Owen Herbert’s favorite part of the state tournament. It was about having fun with his teammates.
“My dad has been the coach of the program for a long time and I have been around the program for a long time,” Owen Hebert said. “Just to be a part of it with four other guys that love golf as much as I do was pretty cool.
“We go out and practice and they love to do it. The golf was great, but hanging out in the hotel and eating on the way home was probably the best part, hanging out with the guys.”
And that is camaraderie that Andy Herbert said is not common in a sport like golf.
“This is the closest team I have ever been a part of,” Andy Herbert said. ”They practice and play together and on the weekends they got play as a group. It’s fun to see them reap the benefits of their work and do it together.”
Junior Owen Herbert is the first Eagles golfer to earn all-state honors since 2005.
Photo credit: Andy Herbert