Back in the swing
Garett McCullough | sports editor
With winter weather still tormenting the Pittsburg area, Pittsburg State golfers found themselves heading south to open their season.
First, the Gorillas were in Garden City for the Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OSPU) Invitational from Monday, March 11, to Tuesday, March 12, before playing in the Midwestern State University Invitational in Wichita Falls, Texas, from Monday, March 18, to Tuesday, March 19.
The Gorillas started their season with a fourth-place finish, out of the seven teams at the OPSU Invitational.
During the fall season, the Gorillas consistently improved their day-two play and kept that up in the OPSU Invitational. They hit a round of 305 on the second day after a 321-stroke performance on day one.
Three Gorillas finished in the top 10 individually. Junior Brett Dowell led the Gorillas with a fourth-place finish. He was the most consistent golfer for the Gorillas, shooting rounds of 77 both days, for a combined score of 154.
Reigning MIAA Freshman of the Year sophomore Justice Valdivia took sixth place, thanks to a strong second-round score of 75, after shooting 81 in the first round. Senior Fletcher Harder appears to be over his knee injury from two years ago, taking eighth place with a two-round combined score of 157.
The Gorillas couldn’t keep their momentum going heading into the Midwestern State University Invitational, as they finished last of the teams that completed the two-day, 54-hole tournament.
Wichita Falls may have had nice weather, but the Gorillas couldn’t find that consistency so crucial to golf. The Gorillas sandwiched a round score of 308 between an opening round score of 321 and a closing round score of 325. Texas A&M International University was on pace to finish last, but instead had a DNF after withdrawing on the final day.
Harder led the Gorillas with an individual score of 230 and ended the tournament in a tie for 21st place. He was the driving force behind the Gorillas’ low round of 305, in which he shot one under par on the par 72 course, a feat only eight of the 88 golfers accomplished at the tournament.
The other Gorillas didn’t fare quite as well.
Valdivia shot three rounds of 78, 78 and 80, and tied for 44th place with a combined score of 236. Senior Cole Murrin looked to be headed for a much better finish after his first two rounds of 76 and 76, but was derailed on the final day, hitting a round score of 86 and tying for 48th place, with his score of 237.
The final two Gorillas, Dowell and freshman David Jirrels, finished near the bottom of the pack, as neither of them could figure out the Champions Course at Weeks Park. Dowell finished in 81st place, with a combined score of 252. Jirrels finished in 84th place with his score of 259.
The Gorillas had their tournament in the fall season, and thus will not have one in the spring.
They are headed to Newton for the Bethel University Invite, which takes place from Monday, April 1, and Tuesday, April 2.