The Rock Bridge golf team consists of five girls who share one common goal: to bring home a state championship.
The Bruins paved their way to state by capturing their district and sectional tournament titles, both of which they won by dominant margins. Now, they’re ready for the final test, which will take place in Kansas City on Monday and Tuesday.
Senior Olivia Sowers, who individually tied for first place at districts and finished in third at sectionals, said a state championship title would reflect the strides her team made this year.
“I think the five of us have worked really hard,” Sowers said. “We’ve just made so many improvements and worked so hard on our games. It would mean a lot for all of the work we’ve put in.”
Rock Bridge placed fifth in last year’s state tournament, recording a team score of 700 combined over two days of competition. Though this year’s team is comprised of the same girls, sophomore Madison Moller said they are not the same golfers they were a year ago.
“This season’s been really good,” Moller said. “We’ve beaten some records, and I think we’ve come a long way as a team. Last year we had the same five, but I think we’ve built relationships and we’ve just grown, and that’s helped our course definitely.”
The Bruins will look to build on their play in last week’s sectional competition. Following Sowers’ third-place finish was junior Maddie Orr, who finished in fourth and just one stroke behind her teammate. Orr said she has been reviewing statistics to see how well her team must play to earn a top finish at state.
“We all shoot mid-80s, low-80s, so I think that’s easily 325 or less. That’s top three,” Orr said. “So I think if we can all just string together a little more, we can bump up there. But we’ll have to work really hard to do that.”
A few of the girls were not as happy with their performances at sectionals, but they are looking forward to the chance to turn things around next week.
“I think that even though I definitely didn’t play as well as I wanted to at all, I’ll become tougher from those situations and those hardships that I went through,” Moller said. “Hopefully I can build off it and redeem myself at state.”
“I’m ready to do a little bit more at state,” junior Sydney Willingham said. “I’m saving the best for last.”
The Bruins will go up against the best competitors Missouri has to offer, and senior Maddie Duff emphasized the importance of all five girls bringing their A-game.
“Every time we play, someone’s always like, ‘Today wasn’t my day.’ But if everyone could have their day on the same day, then we can do it,” Willingham added.
Each of the girls has set a personal individualized goal for the tournament. Duff wants to shoot in the eighties, and Willingham wants to break into the seventies. Orr and Moller are both aiming for top-15 finishes, which would earn them all-state honors, while Sowers has her eye on the big prize.
“I would say my goal is to individually win,” Sowers said. “I think I’m in a good position this year. I’ve competed with some of the girls who are up there toward the top for a long time now, and I think it’s just time for me to settle down and let my ability and talent kind of take over. … It’s definitely something that I’ve wanted for a really long time.”
It’s the biggest tournament of the year, and according to the Rock Bridge team, it’s also the most fun. The girls look forward to making the road trip and staying in hotel rooms, but all five agreed that they are most excited about being there together.
“I’ve seen a lot of girls in the past four years who have made it individually, and I just don’t think the experience is nearly as rewarding as it is with the team,” Sowers said. “We’re a really tight-knit team, so it’s been really fun for us this week to prepare.”
Seniors Duff and Sowers hope to finish their last high school golf tournament on a high note.
“I think it’s going to be really fun and a good experience. It’ll be really competitive, but I’m so excited for it,” Duff said.
“I’m most looking forward to being with my team in my last year,” Sowers said. “We have two really awesome interim coaches, and we’re going to have a lot of fun. I’m excited to be with my team and go out with a positive attitude to hopefully take home a championship.”
The Bruins will tee off in pursuit of the Class 2 state title Monday morning at Swope Memorial Golf Course in Kansas City.
Supervising editor is Seth Bodine.