The Final Show: Eldon’s Hull and trio from Osage to tee off at state golf tournament
It all comes down to this.
Golfers from School of the Osage and Eldon began their seasons at the Laker Invitational Tournament in Camdenton on September 2 and they now have one have one more tournament left to play on Monday and Tuesday in the Class 2 State Tournament at Meadow Lake Acres Country Club in New Bloomfield.
The Lake area will be represented by four golfers in all and for two of them, taking on some of the best golfers the state of Missouri has to offer is nothing new. Eldon senior Kassidy Hull has qualified for state all four years of her high school career and has earned All-State honors the past two seasons, including a third place finish last year. Osage senior Sydney Riley will be making her third straight trip to the state tournament looking to wrap up her high school career on a high note as well. Meanwhile, a pair of freshmen will be taking on the best for the first time as Osage’s Hanna Maschhoff and Sophia Sindlinger earned their spots and will be looking to give the rest of the field some notice they have arrived as the newcomers.
It all comes down to 36 holes over the next two days with a state championship and All-State honors on the line.
Once Hull earned the opportunity to compete at state as a freshman, her drive has never stopped and it has led to three straight individual district titles and a pair of district titles to go with All-State recognition the past two years as she gets ready for her fourth state tournament. Hull finished second in the district tournament at Eagle Knoll Golf Club, trailing only Father Tolton’s Audrey Rischer by six strokes.
“It has always been a goal, of course. I mean, it is not like you expect it once you get it your freshman year,” Hull said of reaching state all four seasons of her high school career. “It pushes you even more to keep trying for it and to do better than the year before.
“It definitely pushes me more than just our local tournaments because I get to see some different competition and see some girls who are really talented.”
And after all that has already been accomplished there is just one thing left to do- win it all. A state championship would certainly make an extensive resume look even better.
“There is a lot of really good competition this year, a lot of younger girls who have really stepped it up. It is definitely not going to be easy but I’m just going to try to keep my composure and play as well as I can,” Hull said of the upcoming tournament.
“I’m just going to have to be able to stay calm. It is a little stressful this year and a lot of pressure being a senior and trying to beat what I did last year, which is definitely going to be really hard.”
Experience may help make the difference and fortunately, Hull has quite a bit of it having played with the best the past three years.
“Some of the girls she is going to be competing with are pretty young and they are very talented golfers, but when you get to the state tournament you are feeling all that pressure,” Eldon coach Matt Frey pointed out. “The fact that Kassidy has been there for four years I think will really pay off, especially coming down to those last nine holes on Tuesday. I think experience is going to be the key this week.”
In the midst of a pandemic, it was not even clear if there would even be a season and an opportunity to compete at state. Fortunately, it seems the season will reach its conclusion.
“It was definitely very scary throughout the year with how many kids were being quarantined at Eldon. Had to be very careful of who I was around, but I’m glad we finally made it,” Hull said of her final year on the links.
And however the finale plays out on Monday and Tuesday, the good memories of her time with the Mustangs have certainly outweighed any of that uncertainty.
“I feel like we have the most fun team out of all of our sports. It is just very relaxing and it is like we are a big family,” Hull said of her time with a program that entered the 2020 season with two straight team district championships. “It feels good to sort of open up other girls to this sport and make them realize they can do it, even if they have not had a lot of experience with it.”
It has been a journey Frey has enjoyed as well the past four years, coaching Hull and leading the team, and he did not hesitate to state what the senior has meant to the program, too.
“The girls are now starting to come out. Our younger girls on the team are still out practicing today, even though their season is done,” the coach said as he and Hull prepared for state at Eldon Country Club on Friday. “They are coming out here and I think they’re having more fun with it. I know they know there are some big shoes to fill. Even though Kassidy has pulled a lot of weight on our golf team the past couple of years herself, she has really pushed the girls to keep playing. ‘Even though I am not going to be here anymore, you guys can still continue to be a successful golf program without me,’ and I don’t think Kassidy will be too far. I think she’ll come back and visit.”
The success Hull has had speaks for itself, but Frey pointed out that the work ethic she has shown has really been influential to her teammates. The senior also took some time to offer a few parting pointers of her own.
“I think if they can just eep their heads up and have confidence in themselves, even if it changes a lot from how it was the past four years, I think they need to stay confident and know they are capable of getting better every day,” Hull stated.
Osage coach Travis Squire knew there may be reason to be excited about the golf season this fall in his first season leading the Indians.
Squire, who also coached golf at Cuba for 11 years, knew he had a returning senior in Riley who had already qualified for state twice before. When he saw what Maschhoff and Sindlinger had to offer as well, attending some Missouri Golf Association events this past summer, his hunch was basically confirmed.
“I saw their swings and got really excited knowing I had some golfers that not just had some of the fundamentals down but were playing and competing well,” he said of the pair of freshmen. “Lucking out, I did not have a lot or much to do with these girls’ swings, but as a golf coach, boy, inheriting three players going to state is amazing and it is going to be fun to watch them.”
The Indians played in the same district tournament as Eldon at Eagle Knoll Golf Club and amongst a field of 51 golfers, a golfer needed to finish in the top 18 to earn a ticket to state. Maschhoff finished fourth overall to lead Osage after 18 holes while Sindlinger finished 12th and Riley captured 14th.
“Hanna has been on fire all season and has placed in every tournament we have gone to. She plays very aggressively and plays like she wants to win,” Squire said of the freshman. “Sophia has placed in all but one of our tournaments and she, too, is a very steady player always playing within herself and that is important in golf. A lot of times, people try to play outside their ability levels and you get punished so she was always playing within herself- a disciplined golfer. Sydney has been to state twice so I was really excited to see her get an opportunity to go back again for her senior year and not have that cut short by COVID.”
And while the potential and expectations may have been high, there are still no guarantees in the game of golf so Squire was happy to see the trio pull through after the growth they have shown during the fall.
“I don’t think Sydney plays as much golf in the offseason so it took a while in the season for her turning in some higher scores than she liked, getting her game dialed back in. The progress in her scores from the beginning of the season to the end was really a matter of managing her short game and putting,” the coach pointed out. “In terms of the freshmen, I think it was just shaking off the, ‘I’m a freshman’ mentality and going out there and going, ‘Hey, I’m one of the better golfers here. Let’s see how low we can go with this number.’”
If there is anything to learn from the example the trio have shown all season, it is that success in golf requires one to be on the links beyond the frame of the high school season. Squire said one does not need to be a golf addict, but consistency goes a long way.
“Golf cannot be played just in season. You’ll spend your entire season trying to figure out what you could have maintained all year,” the coach explained. “I think the message I was able to share with my younger golfers who were not varsity was, ‘Look, these girls are playing in the offseason, playing in the spring and summer, and keeping that golf swing sharp,’ and if my other players want to look at these three, that is what they should take away from it. You have to stay up on your game.”
With the final show set to get underway on Monday, Squire is glad that the trio will have each other, too, as opposed to a single golfer representing their school at state.
“I’ve taken some kids to state before and you are surrounded by strangers and the parents of strangers. The crowds get bigger and the gallery that is following you is bigger and you are on courses you are not familiar with so everything is just kind of awkward,” Squire remarked, also noting how much fun it can be to play on a new course. “You have some friends there supporting you so that is awesome to be able to cheer on each other as they’ll have opportunities to do.”
There are also just a few things the coach wants his golfers to keep in mind while they are out on the links as well.
“I want Sydney to remember that this is her last opportunity to play high school golf and to have fun with it. For the other two, as well, I don’t want them to make the competition bigger than it is,” he said. “It is still a round of golf and nobody players better golf by putting more pressure on themselves and more pressure on each swing. Remember, yes, it is a state championship tournament but another round of golf.”