Brad Ficke, like every coach whose team competed at the Class 6A state golf meet at the Firekeeper Golf Course in Mayetta on Tuesday, wanted to win it all.
Ficke, though, balanced that out with a realistic approach.
He went in expecting his Manhattan High club to finish in the middle of the pack, based on the way the Indians had played all season and the tendencies he had identified.
It just didn’t go that way for Manhattan, which totaled a 333 and finished 10th out of 12 teams.
“I know who we are as a team,” Ficke said, “but we obviously came up short with that. It’s just kind of where we ended up. We had some guys who consistently didn’t play to their potential.”
Junior Casey Gritton led the Indians, shooting a 6-over 78, good for a tie for 20th place.
Senior Cody Begnoche carded a 10-over 82, a tie for 36th place, and junior Collin Devane tallied a 14-over 86, a tie for 54th.
Freshman Grant Snowden shot a 15-over 87 to finish tied for 59th. Junior Mitch Munsen and senior Josh Priddle each notched a 16-over 88, tying for 63rd.
That wrapped up the day for Manhattan at the 6A state meet, which originally was slated for May 20 at Sand Creek Station Golf Course in Newton, but was rescheduled due to inclement weather.
It complicated things for the Indians. They made it through seven holes early last week, then, on Monday, they traveled to Mayetta for a practice round. They then returned late Monday and left Manhattan at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday for the tournament.
“I think that took its toll a little bit,” Ficke said, “but was our score going to be a ton better without doing that?
“I’m not sure that it would have made much of a difference.”
He did note that the delays may have affected his club in one way, though.
“Maybe mentally, it took a little bit of a toll,” Ficke said. “Heck, those guys are 16, 17, 18 years old — I hope it doesn’t take a toll physically, but I didn’t see evidence of that. I think mentally, it might have.”
It didn’t seem to faze Gritton, who birdied the 18th hole.
“I think that course sets up pretty well for him,” Ficke said. “His 150-(yards)-and-in game is really good, and the way they had the tees set up, playing orange tees most of the way, it gave him an opportunity to attack a lot of par-4s. He’s always been a good putter and continues to put well.”
Gritton did so despite drizzling rain, which Ficke said was coming down during several holes on Tuesday afternoon.
If it affected Begnoche, Ficke didn’t say so. He’s one of two seniors Manhattan waves goodbye to, now that the season has come to an end.
“Cody is a really, really hard worker, and I don’t think too many people compete harder than him,” Ficke said. “His personality is irreplaceable. He keeps things light. He loves to talk sports and statistics, and he knows everything about every pro golfer. It’s incredible.”
The Indians also will bid farewell to Priddle, who Ficke called “a really good athlete who just got in a slump” toward the end of the season.
“But Josh is one of the finest young men that I have ever coached,” Ficke said. “He’s a solid, solid guy. Strong Christian. He stuck to his beliefs and did things his way. To me, it was my pleasure to coach Josh.”
Manhattan, though, can look forward to the futures of Gritton, Devane, Snowden and Munsen, all of whom will be back next season.
Ficke is hoping this year’s state meet can pay dividends for them down the road.
“Just the experience of being at regionals and state is huge,” Ficke said, “having been through that before, regardless of what course we’re going to be at next year. That’s big.”