Czech out this year’s Bayard golf team!: Exchange student’s victory leads Tigers to Mitchell tourney team title
     2014-04-17      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Terry Gaston/for the Citizen - Roman Konvicka, an exchange student at Bayard from the Czech Republic, eyes his putting line on the No. 5 green Tuesday during the Mitchell Invitational boys' golf tournament at Scenic Knolls Golf Course north of Mitchell. Konvicka won medalist honors by three strokes with his 3-over-par score of 75, leading Bayard to the team championship. 
MITCHELL – When the Bayard boys’ golf team’s season ended last spring with a disappointing, non-qualifying performance in the District C-5 Tournament, the Tigers already had enough incentive set before them to earn that elusive berth to state this season.

And then in August, 23rd-year Bayard coach Jim Roberts got a year-long gift from Eastern Europe to add to an already solid group of returnees and make the Tigers’ quest for qualifying for the state tournament even stronger.

Roman Konvicka, an exchange student from the Czech Republic, and his 12 years of golf were on exhibit Tuesday at Scenic Knolls Golf Course for the Mitchell Invitational, and the Bayard newcomer led the Tigers to the team title by claiming medalist honors amid strong westerly winds that plagued the 48-player field for the entire round.

Konvicka’s 3-over-par 75, with split scores of 36 and 39, took medalist honors by three strokes. Mitchell senior Peyton Briggs and Kimball senior Henry Heeg finished tied for second at 79, with Briggs awarded the runner-up medal on a scorecard tiebreak.

Bayard had three golfers make the top 10 that led the Tigers’ winning team score of 341, which bettered Alliance by three strokes and Mitchell by four. The Gering junior varsity turned in a fourth-place score of 366.

“It was on hole No. 3, I was having to play way to the right,” Konvicka said of battling the wind. “I just played with it.”

“He has some skills and offers some shining moments where you can tell he has some great golf skills,” Roberts said of Konvicka. “His maturity level is pretty good in the way he thinks about the game.”

Bayard senior state tournament returnee Trae Blanco overcame a horrid 48 on the front nine to card 37 on the second nine holes and post an 85 that gave him eighth place.

Tiger junior Joe Hernandez matched Konvicka’s consistent play with an 87 that earned him the 10th-place medal after a scorecard tiebreak. Hernandez scored 44 on the first nine and 43 on the second round through the Scenic Knolls course.

“We’ve watched them mature and teach them to do their best,” Roberts said. “One of the most difficult things to get a golfer to do is put two good nine-hole scores together, and then it’s even more difficult to put together four good scores. As the season progresses, we hope to see everybody play well and stay together.”

Blanco, who was 18th in the Class C state tournament last year, struggled through his first nine holes at 48 and stepped up to Roberts’ challenge at the turn.

“He started horribly and he started to recover,” Roberts said. “I asked him when he was done with his front nine to show me some mettle, and he really played well on the back nine.”

In finishing out Bayard’s ladder, David Schuler had a consistent pair of scores of 48 and 46 in carding his 94, as did Manuel Acosta totaled 116 with nine-hole scores of 60 and 56.

“Bayard’s going to be a tough team,” Mitchell coach Brock Ehler said of the Tigers. “They were already tough, but then they have the exchange student come in for the year and shoot 75 in 25-30 mile-an-hour wind today. You can obviously tell he is a very good player.”

Ehler, whose team won the Bayard Invitational on April 8, said Briggs’ second-place medal was well-earned after a series of mishaps on the sixth hole could have sunk his chances.

“On No. 6, he teed off into a tree and it went straight down,” Ehler said. “He pitched out, and everybody who saw that it was in the open and that he could play it from there. But apparently the ball then got hit by a different group from an adjacent fairway and they were looking for the ball.

“And so he had to go back under the tree and play his fourth shot for a lost ball. But from that error, he basically played par in and didn’t give up. We’ve talked about with the kids about just playing hard and not giving up. Some kids would have folded and just made some big numbers, but he went par-par-par and continued to play strong. He accepted it and just continued to play on.”

Mitchell senior Bo McVay finished in sixth place at 84, with matching nine-hole scores of 42. On hole No. 5, his 14th hole of play, McVay pulled his tee shot left of the green, but he converted a solid up-and-down to save par.

“We played well,” said Ehler, who got other scores of 88 from senior Luis Panduro, 94 from classmate Triston Robles and 109 from Seth Marcoe.

“I thought some of the kids who scored well did so in the scoring area, hitting good wedge shots,

getting into good position to make some putts and have some good things happen.”

The Gering JV Bulldogs were led to their fourth-place team finish by Chandler Uhrich’s 88 and Mason Marsh’s 89. Also for Gering, Mark Montague shot a 94, Grant Maser carded a 95 and Logan VanAnne recorded a 106.

“They exceeded my expectations today,” Gering coach Keaton Green said. “A 366 is good for them. We had some individual goals of them improving their scores, and I think they all did that and overall I think they were pretty happy with how things went.”

In another highlight of the day, Chadron’s Jayden Stock, who won the scorecard tiebreak for the seventh medal over Bayard’s Blanco, had a hole-in-one on the 17th hole – the No. 8 with longer tee settings. Stock nailed his ace using a 6-iron.

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