OAKLAND – The Bishop Neumann golf team saw their entire season wiped out by COVID-19, but took full advantage of a unique opportunity in Oakland on June 29-30.
The two-day golf tournament resembled a high school tournament in every respect, but it wasn’t sanctioned by the Nebraska School Activities Association.
Instead, it was the brainchild of Oakland-Craig High School Athletic Director Dallas Sweet and a group of members sitting in the clubhouse after a round in April.
They wanted to host an event which featured all of the top Class C golfers in the state.
They invited the top 15 teams and the top 20 individuals from the 2019 Class C State Golf Tournament.
One of those teams was the Bishop Neumann Cavaliers. The Cavaliers competed in Class B in 2019, finishing fifth among 12 teams. The Cavaliers were slated to compete in Class C in 2020.
Nine teams showed up for the two-day event and of the 10 state medalists who were eligible to play, nine made the decision to tee it up.
After the first day of competition, three teams, the Cavaliers, Oakland-Craig and Grand Island Central Catholic emerged as the favorites to capture the team honors.
After a slow start on day two, with the first two golfers on the course soaring to a combined 10 over par over the first four holes, Neumann began to show themselves as a steady force. Graduated senior, Lindsey Thiele, and senior-to-be, Boston Pentico, both came out firing. Thiele’s sparkling 35 on the front side led all players, and the Cavaliers grabbed a four-shot lead at the turn.
Rounding out the Cavalier contingent, Patrick Kenney steadied himself somewhat, and Lauren Thiele fought hard to close with a 39.
Although first-time participant Steven Sladky did not figure into the Neumann scoring, he helped provide support for the others.
Lindsey Thiele and Pentico held together impressively in finishing out rounds of 77 and 80 respectively. These scores would lead them eventually to the individual medals podium as Lindsey Thiele tied for sixth and Pentico tied for 10th.
As the Cavalier team waited patiently for the Oakland-Craig and GICC scores to post, it became clear Neumann was going to win the day. Scotus finished a distant fourth, as Neumann bested the Knights of Oakland-Craig by three strokes and GICC by seven.
Neumann’s two-day total of 657 stood tall on a golf course in excellent shape and ready to test any and all comers.
“A very special thank you goes out to the Oakland club and business sponsors, as well as tournament director, Nick Onken, and his committee. In the midst of so many high school athletes in so many different sports having their hopes dashed by an unseen force that confronts us all, these people stepped up to give some of these kids a very enjoyable and rewarding experience that they will always remember,” said Bishop Neumann Coach Pat Sullivan.