SIKESTON -- The third time was a charm for Sikeston's E. C. Atchison.
On his third trip to the Missouri high school golf championships, Atchison, a Sikeston High School junior, finished in the top 15 to earn Class 3 All-State honors and become the school's first state medalist since Ryan Griggs placed fourth in 1999. Atchison finished in a tie for 12th.
"There are 165 boys competing for the class 3 honor," said Sikeston coach Rick Oetting. "For E. C. to accomplish this goal is outstanding."
Atchison, who participated at the state tournament as a freshman and sophomore member of Sikeston's 2002 and 2003 state-qualifying teams, was an individual qualifier this season through the district playoffs in early May, as were Sikeston teammates Matt Bain and Martin Schaefer.
"It was a great experience going there," said Atchison. "It would have been great to go as a team, but it was still nice to go with Matt and Martin."
Although Atchison had enjoyed a fine regular season and districts and felt good going into the state meet, the practice round prior to the tournament didn't go well.
"I didn't feel that good about it," said Atchison, "but the next morning on the practice range I worked out a little swing problem that helped get my confidence back."
Atchison carded rounds of 79 and 76 for a two-day total of 155 at the par-72 Silo Ridge Golf and Country Club in Bolivar, Mo. His first-round score, posted in perfect playing conditions, didn't leave him with any great expectations. He said, "After the first day, there were a lot of scores in the even-par to 76 range and I just thought I'd have to go out and shoot a low score the next day to finish pretty well."
His 76, with a 30-minute rain delay in the second round, was the ninth-lowest score of the day and vaulted him into all-state status.
Atchison credited his ability to keep the ball in the short grass as a major key to his success.
"The rough at Silo Ridge was very long and even tougher when it got wet, so staying out of it was important," said Atchison, who is not a long hitter, but credits his consistent, straight ball striking as his primary strength. Overall, Atchison felt his game was solid and the only thing he could have wished for was a few more putts to fall.
He, of course is looking forward to his senior year on the Bulldog golf team, but plans to play in junior tournaments in Southeast Missouri and the Springfield area over the summer.