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'We just knew we had it in us': Webster Groves golf rides 12-stroke comeback to win Missouri state championship

With an all-time comeback effort, the Statesmen took home their first state golf championship since 1954.

WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. — There's comeback stories and then there's what the Webster Groves boys golf team pulled off at the state tournament in New Bloomfield.

After shooting a team score of 333 between their four players, the Statesmen were on the outside looking in heading into the second day.

"We were down 12 strokes after the first day and tied for second-to-last. And the last day we just figured, 'It's our last tournament, might as well have fun with it.' But we all showed up and played really well," senior Dane Houseman said.

"Played really well" is an understatement. Webster Groves shot a 306 on the second day to erase the 12-stroke deficit, and win the Class 4 state title by eight strokes.

"We all knew that we could do it. It was just putting it all together," senior Max Boland, who had a sixth place individual finish, said.

"We just knew we had it in us," senior Ben Allison said.

"I was playing 18 and they all knew we won the state championship. I had no idea until I tapped in my last putt and walked off. And the coaches were hugging me as I walked off. ... It was a cool moment because I actually had no idea," senior Dean Schwager said.

So how did their coach get them in the right mindset to make the comeback? It turns out, he didn't have to.

"If you go into the locker room and Jordan, Kobe (and) LeBron are sitting at their locker, ... the coach doesn't have to say anything. These are elite athletes at our sport and our level, and they know. So I didn't have to," head coach Cary Morrison said.

Morrison has been coaching golf at Webster Groves for 21 years and said this season was just as special for him, as it was for his players.

"I played in high school and played in college. We never had the big win. So even vicariously through them, watching their joy as the players who got it, it's really special. It's so fun," Morrison said.

This win didn't come out of nowhere, though. Webster Groves finished third at state in 2021, and had big plans coming into this year.

"The girls one-upped us last year getting second, so we had to one-up them back really quick getting first," Allison laughed.

The state title is the first for the Statesmen in boys golf since 1954, and the historic nature of the win isn't lost on the new champions.

"It's really crazy. 68 years is a while. That's the year my grandma was born. It's crazy to think about, but it's really cool for the school," Houseman said.

"It means a lot not just to us but to the program. Helping the next generation and helping them strive to do what we did, too," Allison said.

Now these four seniors will have a place in Webster Groves High School history forever.

"I still haven't really fully wrapped my head around it. But it's going to be something we'll remember the rest of our lives. My grandpa was telling me, he won five state championships as a coach. He said they still get together every year. That's something I'm really looking forward to," Boland said.

"For these guys to get to live from 18 to whenever and walk these halls and see their pictures, and see the trophies and see the banner, and know you were it. ... It has to be unbelievable for them," Morrison said.

"I don't think any of us are every going to forget this and what it felt like holding that trophy up," Schwager said.

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