Game On - Spring 2024

A third-place finish at the state golf tournament is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, the majority of teams ac- ross Iowa would be ecstatic about a spot on the first page of the leaderboard. High-fives and hugs between teammates and celebrations back inside the school building would occur. But the Gilbert boys’ golf pro- gram isn’t like other programs, not in the eyes of the players anyway. They hold themselves to a higher standard, to a gold standard, if you will. A state championship is the goal every spring, and while that’s not realistic in some years, the 2023 season was a chance for the Tigers to attain their third consecutive crown. Sometimes though, the ball just misses the fairway, or takes a funny bounce into the trees. Sometimes those six-foot putts don’t fall either. In a nutshell, that was the 2023 Class 3A state tournament for the Tigers, and the result was a third-place finish and an end to their class dominance. And the players held them- selves responsible, probably unfairly. “Their self-expectations are so high that it hinders things some- times,” Holly Lester, Gilbert’s longtime boys’ golf coach said when thinking back to last spring’s state tournament. “I was hoping for second and I

think we were all a little dis- appointed because we were only two strokes out, but with that on their shoulders, they will work hard and push further.” With a bit of a chip on the shoulder, coupled with plenty of talent, Gilbert will again look to play a central role in deciding the 3A state champion over the next two months. The 3A state meet will return to Veenker Me- morial Golf Course in Ames once again and, as always, Lester thinks her team has the ability to factor into the out- come. “I think the expectations have gotten to where we expect to participate (in the state tourna- ment) every year,” she said. “That’s where we need to be. We need to be contenders every year.” Five of the six players that helped the Tigers fire rounds of 330 and 315 at the 2023 state meet return this spring. Yes, that one loss to graduation — University of Missouri recruit Brock Snyder — is significant, but neither the players nor Lester are going to lament what they don’t have. Their only focus is this season and im- proving as much as possible. “These guys are a year older, a year wiser,” Lester said. “We have three seniors who know where they’re going to play (col- lege) golf next year and that’s going to be a big load off them.”

Junior Hudson White has been a part of Gilbert’s last two state tournament teams. He helped the Tigers win the Class 3A state crown in 2022 and place third in 2023.

Zach Wilson, who had a tre- mendous 36-hole tour of Veenker last spring to finish sixth individually at state, is headed to NIACC in Mason City. Ian Roske, who is ex- pected to contend for a varsity spot this spring, is headed down the road to Boone to play at DMACC. And Joey Currans, a holdover from the Tigers’ team state championships in 2021 and 2022, will trek all the way to Phoenix to attend South Mountain Community College. Throw in returning varsity

SPRING 2024 | GAME ON 29 Lester will look to Currans and Wilson to guide the ship in April and May. Currans has been a steady figure in the Tigers’ players Ryan Lynch, Hudson White, and Logan Youngberg — all juniors — and you under- stand why the Tigers continue to maintain lofty expectations. Lynch put up a 77 over the final 18 holes of the 2023 state meet to vault into 17th place individ- ually, and White was on the 2022 varsity roster when Gilbert won the second of its back-to- back 3A titles.

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