Wildcats turn in strong season on the links

Theo Tate

Hayden Francois was one of the top players for the Montgomery County golf team this spring. THEO TATE PHOTO

Robert Ripperdan enjoyed his best season as Montgomery County golf coach this spring.

His boys squad finished 12-6 in dual matches, captured its sixth Eastern Missouri Conference championship in program history and had a pair of state qualifiers. He also had four girls on his team, which is the first time since 2018 the Wildcats had any girl golfers.

“It’s been fun for me,” Ripperdan, who took over the program in 2019.

Ripperdan said he’s already looking forward to the 2022 season since all of the golfers are returning.

“I hope next year, we’ll have an even stronger team,” he said.

The Wildcats’ 2021 golf season ended on May 18 with juniors Keenan James and Logan Hutcheson finishing in the top 30 at the Class 2 state golf tournament at Silo Ridge Golf Club in Bolivar. James came up one place short of an all-state medal as he finished 16th. Hutcheson came in 30th.

James and Hutcheson were the first MCHS golfers since Aubrey Nelson in 2018 to qualify for state. They advanced to Bolivar after finishing eighth and 12th, respectively, at the District 2 tournament on May 10 at Norwoods Golf Club in Hannibal.

Ripperdan said he was pleased with the turnout this season. The Wildcats had a total of 19 players, including 15 boys.

“There were so many people,” Ripperdan said. “I did manage to get all of them into a match at one point. The most effective coaching I did was getting people on the course at some point.”

James and Hutcheson led a MCHS boys varsity team that included juniors Nick Saak and Hayden Francois and sophomore Keaton Reagan.

“The varsity guys know how to play golf,” Ripperdan said. “They just need to work on the mental game. That’s something they’ll keep working on.”

The Wildcats had no seniors on the boys team. The other players on the squad were sophomores Alex Hartman, Garrett Banks and Levi Larkin and freshmen Maddox James, Jared Cluver, Robert Rodgers, Cade Smith, Zac Walter, Cameron Arzola and Wesley Cobb.

“We had strong freshman play this year,” Ripperdan said. “I’m looking forward to them getting more experience and maturing a little bit and, hopefully, getting our team score competitive in the state.”

Seniors Sara Scheid, Valerie Kueny and Selena Allen and sophomore Marina Ridenhour were the girls on the team. All of them played high school golf for the first time.

On April 26, the MCHS boys won the Eastern Missouri Conference tournament by 14 strokes. Hutcheson, Reagan, Saak and Keenan James earned all-league honors after placing in the top 15.

The Wildcats also had second-place finishes in the Warrenton and Elsberry tournaments.

MCHS began its season on March 29 with a second-place finish in a triangular match against Hallsville and South Callaway. At one point of the season, the Wildcats were 9-1 in dual matches.

MCHS didn’t have a 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.



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