Seniors Joe Wetrich and Jacob Gardner showed off the trophy the Ottumwa golf teams earned by taking third at the Class 4A Boys State Golf tournament Friday a pep rally in the high school auditorium.
Wetrich, Gardner and the rest of the Bulldog linksters were recognized in front of their classmates by Ottumwa Principal Mark Hanson. The Bulldog squad included sophomores Matt Walker, Dillon Patritto and Braxton Coble, Gardner, Wetrich and junior Hoyt Grooms. The Bulldogs finished the two-day event with a score of 629, which was four strokes better than fourth place Dowling Catholic.
Hanson also made sure to recognize Walker, who posted the top individual score at the state tournament in the Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City. His score of 141 was five strokes lower than his nearest competitor.
For Walker, it was a fitting end to a stellar season. Aside from taking first at state, he also claimed first at the Class 4A district tournament with a par 70 as well as in the CIML Metro 7 Conference Tournament; thanks to three-under par round of 69 in the second half of the two-day event. The sophomore’s triumph at state made him the seventh Bulldog — Charles Taylor was the first in 1943 — to take first in the golf program’s renowned history.
The Bulldog team also had a tremendous season as a whole. At one point, the boys placed first in three consecutive tournaments: Burlington Invitational, Marshalltown Invitational, Southeast Polk Invitational. A first-place finish in the Metro 7 Conference tournament was another feather in the cap for the Bulldogs. Ottumwa built a 15-stroke lead in the first half of the conference tourney — a result that can be partially attributed to junior Hoyt Grooms shooting a one over par 71, which turned out to be the lowest round of the day. The boys score also was bolstered by Walker, sophomore Dillon Patritto and Wetrich, who all carded a 74.
The Bulldogs hung on to win the conference by eight strokes despite losing by seven strokes to Des Moines Roosevelt in the second half of the tournament. Wetrich had a solid senior season, finishing in the top five in several tournaments and duels — he finished second behind Walker in a duel against Indianola.