Brooke Cusumano has a hard time wrapping her mind around it. Her coach, Steve Bradley, was stunned by how it all went down. The Westminster Christian Academy girls’ golf team is your Missouri Class 1 state championship team for the first time, and Cusumano is the individual medalist. And the state record book will never be the same.
The Wildcats spent last Monday and Tuesday at Silo Ridge Golf and Country Club in lovely Bolivar, Mo., getting up and down, draining putts and running away with the state championship.
Westminster shot a two-day team score of 673, which was 91 strokes better than runnerup Maryville High School, obliterating the state record for margin of victory. Pembroke Hill held the previous mark of 62. To raise the degree of difficulty, the weather was so ugly it could have been a Halloween mask. After nearly a month of perfect weather, crystal clear skies and moderate to warm temperatures, the two-day state tournament was played in swirling winds, rain and chilly conditions. Hats, gloves, scarves and blankets were the favorite accessories for the fans in the gallery.
“I kind of like playing in the cold and the wet,” Cusumano, 17, says. “Anybody can play well when the weather is perfect.”
It’s hard enough playing golf when the weather is nice, and it’s the state tournament. Add in the crummy conditions and what you have is a hurdle so big only the toughest competitors can overcome it. Consider Westminster among the toughest.
“They just baffle me with their ability to get the job done,” Bradley says with a chuckle. “It’s their ability to not let anything faze them.”
Cusumano shot 80 and 84 for a total of 164 to win the individual state championship. She finished two strokes ahead of Cole Camp’s Megan Keck. The 5-foot-3 Cusumano says she still can’t fathom she’s the champ. “I didn’t believe it,” she says. “I refused to believe it. I thought, I can’t be state champ.”
She was, but her teammates weren’t far behind. Margaret Moore shot 82 and 85 for a 167 to finish third. Jordan Wolf was fourth with an 84 and 84 for a 168. Ciara Younger carded 87 and 87 for a 174 for seventh. Maggie Mauze tied for 70th. Missouri only counts the top four scores for each team during the postseason tournaments.
So with its top foursome finishing in the top seven, Westminster was untouchable. Not that it surprised Cusumano. “Our whole team is incredible golfers,” she says. “We’re all at the same skill level.”
Cusuamano notes that while the weather wasn’t the greatest, it didn’t affect the way the Wildcats went about their business. “We weren’t going to let a little cold and a little wind stop us,” Cusumano says. “We’ve been gearing towards state all year. Last year we were third and we weren’t taking (third) this year.”
Cusumano pointed to her wedges and putter as the reasons she carded such a low score. She kept the ball out of the wind, got up and down and operated on those greens with a surgeon’s precision. “I’m so happy my putter was working for me,” she says.
Westminster is relishing its championship and the banner that will hang in the gymnasium. But there are already hopes of returning to state and defending what’s theirs. Cusumano and Younger are only juniors this year. Wolf is a mere sophomore. Cusumano, for one, plans on keeping warm this winter by spraying balls from a heated tee box. “I don’t want to put my clubs away,” she says. “I want to keep a little fire burning.”