Ori Bartlett wins match medalist for the Tigers

The sun was out, the conditions were ideal and the golfers of Versailles and Eldon had an opportunity to sharpen up their skills right before the Tri-County Conference Tournament in a quad with Tipton and Russellville Tuesday night at Rolling Hills Country Club in Versailles.

After all the score cards were turned in from the 9-hole battle, the Mustangs came out on top with a team score of 182 to best the field. The Tigers finished second on their home course with a score of 202 while Tipton finished third at 203 and Russellville placed fourth at 210.

“We played well today. Probably not as well as we’ve played in the past, but the boys are still rounding out nicely before districts which I’m looking forward to seeing how we play there,” Eldon coach Matt Frey said Tuesday night. “We’ve got conference tomorrow so hopefully after a good night’s rest they’ll be able to come out tomorrow and play well.”

Eldon’s Austin Kostelnik paced the Mustangs with a round of 42 while Aiden Wells shot a 45, Cole Kliethermes turned in a score of 47, Breckon Blankenship finished the day at 48 and Nick Willingham put up a 50.

“Two of the boys that have been struggling turned in a lot better scores today, which is good to see. That is promising going into tomorrow,” Frey said of his group.

Versailles may not have had the best team score, but the Tigers did feature the best golfer of the day as Ori Bartlett paced the Tigers and turned in the meet’s top score of 38 to earn the title of match medalist. Bartlett said having the top score was a confidence booster heading into the conference clash and being on the home greens may have been a small advantage, but one of the most important things was to come in with a fresh mindset.

“Just coming in blank, honestly, and having a good mindset forgetting about every other previous round to this because this season has not really been that good of a year,” Bartlett said of the approach. “But this match was pretty good and definitely helped out.”

Versailles coach Chuck Campbell was proud of Bartlett’s display and noted that Tuesday night could be a good sign of things to come.

“With Ori, he is kind of peaking at the right time. He had three pretty good rounds back to back so coming into conference and districts, that is a good thing and is what we like,” said Campbell who led the Mustangs for 25 years before retiring for a season and eventually coming back to coach his alma matter.

Kyle Bartlett put up a 49 for Versailles while Ben Dornan finished the day at 54, Tristan Mayhew added a 60 and Joel Faron turned in a 61.

“Even the young kids, we have a bunch of freshmen so they are all getting a little better and we have to continue to do that each week,” Campbell noted. “We have not had team scores for a while and we have enough kids to have team scores this year so I think the kids are excited about that. They are winning some matches against some people, so it is good for the program.”

Tuesday night marked one of the first times Versailles had the opportunity to play at home with one of the previously scheduled matches being rained out. But for Campbell, leading his hometown program this season has been a little surreal and he has been happy to do his part.

“I never thought I’d be back at my alma matter, but the opportunity arose and they were needing somebody,” the coach recalled. “I had some time so I thought, ‘Well, I could do that for a year.’ The kids have been real good, we’ve had quite a few out this year and they’re just about all freshmen and we have no seniors. Whatever happens next year, I think the team will be in good shape. The kids are excited about playing this summer and that is the main thing, improve. That is what we preach so it was kind of neat getting back into it.”

But in the meantime, there are some big days ahead as the Tigers had a battle for conference supremacy at Eagle Knoll in Hartsville Wednesday and will compete in districts on Monday.

“For us, it is just keeping it (ball) in the fairway. You get out in the woods or weeds and you get in all sorts of trouble,” Campbell said of the approach. “So, if they can just keep it in the fairway and keep plugging along, their scores will be a lot better than trying to hit driver and go for the distance because we are not quite there yet.”

Eldon will host another match on Thursday at 4 p.m., before heading to districts in Jefferson City on Monday at 9 a.m. Versailles will be at Blair Oaks on Thursday at 4 p.m., before visiting Buffalo for district tournament play at 9 a.m.