The sun was shining bright and it was approaching 80 degrees on Monday morning when high school teams from all over the state of Missouri gathered for the Class 4 District 5 Golf meet at Old Kinderhook.
The sun was shining bright and it was approaching 80 degrees on Monday morning when high school teams from all over the state of Missouri gathered for the Class 4 District 5 Golf meet at Old Kinderhook. As the host team and coming off of a second place win during the Ozark Conference meet, the Camdenton Lakers were anxious and ready to play.
The varsity team is a young one consisting of three sophomores, one junior and one senior, but they didn't let that stand in their way en route to a second place finish in districts.
The so-called young team’s second place finish in districts was enough to qualify the team for sectionals. Monday's finish is the best a Laker golf team has done as a whole team in school history.
One player, junior Michael Phitzner, placed first in the Ozark Conference meet and repeated the placing again at districts. At Monday's meet, Phitzner shot a 71.
"He's got it," Coach Todd Nicklas said of Phitzner.
Phitzner grew up in the lake area and considered Old Kinderhook his home golf course. The summer after his eighth grade year, he and his family moved to Illinois. At the beginning of this school year, Phitzner returned home to the Lakers and have helped the team find success.
Phitzner was on a high coming off of his two recent wins.
"I thought I played pretty well today," he said. "My game is feeling well after the win at conference."
A strong work ethic is what helped the team get to where they are today.
Nicklas recalled giving the team a day off a few weeks ago on a cold, rainy, dreary day. Instead of resting, he found three of his players practicing anyway, one of which was Phitzner.
"I feel like when you are in season and you miss just one day it can get you out of your zone," Phitzner said. "There is no such thing as an off day even when it's raining."
The varsity team practices together Monday through Friday unless they have a meet. Phitzner said that it was common to find him and a few other players at Old Kinderhook playing golf even on the weekends.
The team will go at it again during the sectionals meet on Monday in Carthage, Mo. The top two teams and 12 individuals from sectionals will move on to the state meet.
"I feel really good about it. I feel like I know the course," Phitzner said of the upcoming sectionals meet. "Our team can do really well. We are weak in some areas but are getting it together toward the end of season."
Phitzner hopes to play golf in college. But for now, he and his team must get through sectionals.