Area schools to tee off seasons this spring

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 3/18/23

Knipfel to lead Mexico boys golf

Mexico’s Aidan Knipfel is hoping the third time will be the charm this golf season.

The junior leads the boys golf team after two trips to the state …

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Area schools to tee off seasons this spring


Knipfel to lead Mexico boys golf

Mexico’s Aidan Knipfel is hoping the third time will be the charm this golf season.

The junior leads the boys golf team after two trips to the state tournament and is seeking a third this year for a state medal.

Head coach Becca Bates said there will be 13 golfers on the team, including two seniors, five seniors, one sophomore and five freshmen.

Bates said most of her juniors are playing for the first time but expect to be great assets to the team. She sad sophomore Jacob Stephens had a good offseason and has improved much.

She hopes all of this means more Bulldogs will make it out of districts to state this season.

Van-Far golf experience hopes to mix into longer season

Van-Far golf has a mix of underclassmen and upperclassmen this season but all have some experience.

Senior Cody Smith, juniors Clara Wallace and Katelyn McCurdy and freshmen Pacey Reading, Jackson Fischer and Kasen Christian have experience golfing during or before high school and are expected to lead the team this season, head coach Nate Isenberg said.

Isenberg said Smith leads that group as he was the closest to state last season. Smith shot a 32 over-par to sit eight strokes away from state contention.
The Indians have one senior, three juniors, three sophomores and four freshmen.

Last season was a rebuilding season, Isenberg said, as the team has four returning players but hopes the program can take the next step with a season that extends beyond districts.

Missouri Military Academy golf wants stronger mental game

One hole can’t make or break a season.

That’s what Missouri Military Academy head coach Anthony Yannielli has emphasized to his team following last year’s results.

Yannielli said this season brings the rarity of having the majority of this year’s 17 golfers be returners as MMA doesn’t always have students return. Now the Colonels can work on being more mentally tough as he sees great potential.

“We had some bad matches because the boys would struggle on one hole and carry it with them for the whole match," Yannielli said. "My goal is to help them let go of that hole and move onto the next one. In my 3 years of being the golf coach, this is the best team, from top to bottom, MMA has had.”

Key returners include junior Gabriel Ontiveros, from Monterrey, Mexico, and senior Blake Morais, from the hometown Mexico. Ontiveros was the closest Colonel to the state meet as his 28 over-par was seven strokes out from qualification, but Yannielli said he has worked in the offseason to improve. He said Morais struggled at the end of last season but has also made improvements.

Cooper Johnston is a sophomore cadet from Ardmore, Oklahoma, that Yannielli has high expectations for.

“Each year, we have improved with a new team every year,” Yannielli said. “My expectation for this year is for at least one cadet to advance to state with the possibility of more than one going.”

North Callaway thinks team as capable as last year

The North Callaway golf team shows some promise this season.

Last season’s results are evident of that, head coach Kalyn Meyer said. Three of the Thunderbirds who were on the team that finished eighth out of 14 teams at districts, which are the same golfers from last season’s runner-up Eastern Missouri Conference team and the Callaway Cup winning team.

Leading the way in his senior season is Davis Althiser, who finished fourth at the conference meet after posting the lowest nine-hole score of the day. Althiser was only seven strokes away from qualifying for the Class 2 state meet as well so Meyer expects him to be motivated this year.

“He has worked hard on his game this summer, and I am hopeful he can fulfill his goal of qualifying for the state tournament this season.” Meyer said.

Juniors Tyler Hiddleston and Tucker Wright also return for the team as well as senior Connor Green, who joined the program late last season and expects to be a “vital” part of the varsity squad this season, Meyer said.

One big subtraction is Thomas Crum, who graduated to play at William Woods University in Fulton after being North Callaway’s lone state qualifier. Meyer said the team has young guys who can fill the void and help the Thunderbirds accomplish similar things as last year.

“I think that success is possible this year as well,” Meyer said. “Graduating Thomas Crum definitely has had an impact on the program, but we have young guys willing to step up to fill the void of his leadership and success.”

There are 11 total golfers on the team this season that break down to three seniors, four juniors, one sophomore and three freshmen.