Jackson: SJ-O star golfer prepares to shine
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For all intents and purposes, golf is an individual sport. What you shoot is your score. You don't worry about having to rely on teammates to get you the ball or set you up for a good shot.
But having a camaraderie with teammates certainly can be beneficial. We saw that this past weekend in the Presidents Cup with members of the U.S. team. It can be a blast.
Mason Silver doesn't have that.
The St. Joseph-Ogden junior watches his peers from other schools fraternize on the putting greens and driving range before tournaments and celebrate together afterward. He can't do that. He's the only one wearing Spartans colors most of the time.
"It would be nice to have that, but I just go out and play," he said.
Hasn't affected his performance, though, as he'll head to Bloomington on Friday as an individual qualifier in the Class 1A state finals.
"Those first couple meets were difficult, being out there by myself," Silver said. "But after I had done it a couple of times, it got easier. It would be nice to have some of my friends out there to make it a little bit better."
As the lone Spartans representative, Silver has thrived during his second season as a high school golfer. He was the champion of the inaugural Champaign County tournament last month and was a top-five finisher at last week's regional.
In cold, wet conditions Monday, Silver managed a 77 at the Harrison Park Sectional and nabbed one of the 40 slots not reserved for members of qualifying teams to earn the right to compete for a state title.
"It's very exciting. I was very relieved after I heard that I made it," Silver said. "Those last three holes were very nerve-racking. I've worked so hard to get there, and I was so relieved that I made it."
But making it isn't enough for Silver. He wants to be competitive and make his and St. Joseph-Ogden's presence known at Prairie Vista.
He gets constant pointers from his grandpa, Ronald Stinburge, who got him started in the game as a boy, and a cousin, Phillip Adams, an assistant club pro in Indianapolis.
"I want to shoot at least 77 both days," he said. "I think that would be a good number. It would be very nice to get into the top 10."
Charger also flying solo
At Centennial, Lizzy Dombroski has the benefit of competing alongside teammates throughout the season, but this weekend she'll be alone. The Chargers didn't get through in the team competition, but Dombroski is headed to the state finals for a third time in three tries.
"She has a tendency to tighten the screws at this time of the season," Centennial coach Darren Tee said. "She's been a little Jekyll and Hyde this season but has been real focused the past couple of weeks."
The previous trips Dombroski had company. Big sister Jenna, now a freshman player at Southern Illinois, joined her at state in 2007, and the Chargers qualified as a team last fall when Lizzy Dombroski finished tied for 13th place.
A top-10 finish could be in store this weekend in Carbondale.
"I just think she's learned to manage the course a little bit better," Tee said. "No one makes great decisions all the time out there. From freshman year to junior year she just continues to make better decisions on the course.
"I think there was more pressure to get to state than there will be once she plays there this weekend. She puts a lot of pressure on herself, and there's nothing wrong with that. She expects to be there."
Marcus Jackson is a News-Gazette staff writer. He can be reached at 217-351-5604 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.