The fall season for the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly men's club golf team came to an end this past weekend with the Shawnee Community College Invitational Tournament at the Dalhousie Golf Club in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
The Grizzlies struggled in the two-day event, placing sixth out of seven teams with a score of 679.
John A. Logan College of Carterville, Ill., placed first with 582, followed by Rend Lake College of Ina, Ill., with 648. Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis placed third with a team score of 656 and Mineral Area College of Park Hills came in fourth with a score of 675.
The host team, which is from Ullin, Ill., was fifth with 676, and Kasaskia College of Centralia, Ill., finished with a score of 698.
Freshman J.W. Blevins of Salem, led the Grizzly charge on the links, shooting a two-day total of 164.
He was followed by freshman Taylor Vanzandt, Cassville, with 165; Freshman Dustin Blackburn, Houston, 172; Sophomore Josh Kern, Seymour, 183; and freshman Jay Williams, Eminence, 185.
Freshman Blake Allen, Thayer, played as an individual entry in the tournament and shot a two-round total of 191.
"I was disappointed with our finish to the fall campaign," Grizzly Head Coach Phil Wade said. "Assistant Coach Tommy Roe and I had hoped we would have four or five players perfuming consistently at the end of the fall semester but we only have about two or three. Even so, there were several bright spots this semester on which we can build, and several players excelled in their transition to the college game."
One of the Grizzlies' top performers, Wade said, was Blevins. "J.W. was consistently our best player. He only had two rounds in the 80s. The rest were in the 70s. He worked very hard to improve throughout the semester and deserves to be recognized as our best player this fall," Wade said.
Another player who came on strong was Blackburn, Wade added. "Dustin improved tremendously in the last three or four outings. We're looking foward to seeing what he will do in the spring," the coach said.
Also a bright spot this fall was newcomer Jay Williams. "Jay came to us having never played a competitive round of golf in high school but he improved dramatically from day one. He's showing great potential and we're excited about his progress," Wade said.
Freshman Josh Hicks of Willow Springs had a shortened fall season due to some health issues, Wade said, "But we think he will do well. We expect better things from him next spring."
Wade also noted the play of Vanzandt, who excelled in some events but struggled in others. "Taylor had times when his play was very good, the coach said. "He has the ability and skill to be a very good golfer. He just hasn't developed the consistency he needs. We hope that will happen next spring."
The Grizzlies now enter their off-season and will resume practices in late January. "All in all, it has been a good campaign so far this year. We just have some more work to do," Wade said.
The coach also said he would like to thank all of those who supported the team this fall. "We're very appreciative of their encouragement. We have a great group of players this year and it really makes a difference to see the community behind them," Wade said.