By Joel Muhs / Staff writer
The Hutchinson Community College men’s golf team entered this year’s national tournament with 20 straight appearances but no titles. These Blue Dragons wrote a different story.
The Blue Dragons led wire-to-wire in their first ever golf championship, as they led by three strokes after the first round and stretched that lead to 16 strokes after completing round two. HutchCC then carried a 12-shot lead into the final round and hung on for a nine-shot victory over Odessa College on Thursday at The Rawls Course in Lubbock, Texas..
“I’m so proud of them. These are my sons right here. I love all these guys and I’m super proud of every one of them,” coach Chris Young said.
The team championship wasn’t the only title that was won for the Blue Dragons, as freshmen Englanders Ben Partridge and Harry Crockett battled in a four-hole playoff for the individual title, with Partridge coming out on top.
“The team is such a close-knit group of lads. We all really build off each other’s energy to win and we all have different aspects and characters, and I feel like Coach put together a great team, both character wise and playing golf wise,” Partridge said. “In terms of that, we’ve been able to gel throughout the year and I think that just made us stronger on the golf course.”
Before pushing the singles title into extra holes, Partridge entered the day trailing Crockett by two strokes.
“Yeah for sure, there were definitely some nerves. I was nervous the whole week,” Crockett said after being asked if there were some nerves heading into the final round. “Especially today with the two-shot lead, but I feel like I played pretty solid. I couldn’t quite hole the putts.”
Although HutchCC finished at 16-under par for the tournament, both Young and Partridge thought the front nine proved to be the toughest part of the course.
“For sure, the first hole of the tournament. It was a par-3 and it played 189 yards (in the final round) and it was over water,” Young said. “The first seven holes were the hardest holes of the course I think.”
“For me, it was the first six holes. I played them horribly,” Partridge said.
Crockett, however, felt his biggest contest came elsewhere.
“For me, the most challenging part of the course was definitely the pin placements,” Crockett said.
Although the Blue Dragons wound up with a nine-shot victory, they saw their lead shrink down to two shots midway through the last round, after heading into the day up 12 shots.
“Odessa really had the first 14-15 holes of today. I didn’t really see a kid miss a shot, and they really weren’t giving any shots away,” Young said. “We just had to take as many pars as we could and let the other team make the mistakes.”
After a season that saw many turns, twists, crazy weather, and a lingering virus, the HutchCC golf team stood atop the highest mountain at the season’s end.
“It’s great. The school (winning the championship) for the first time in program history is unbelievable,” Partridge said.