COLUMBIA, MO. • Henry Mikula played the waiting game at the Class 3 state golf tournament last season — and lost.
This time, the MICDS sophomore knew what to expect.
Mikula shrugged off a 30-minute delay between holes to fire an even-par 71 and grab a share of the lead in the opening round of the two-day, 36-hole event on Monday at Columbia Country Club.
The long-hitter is tied with Ryan Lee of Pembroke Hill going into the final 18 holes on Tuesday.
Mikula’s strong performance helped put the Rams in position to win team title as well.
Pembroke Hill leads the way with a four-player score of 307. MICDS is second (312) followed by John Burroughs (314) and Lutheran South (319).
Defending state champion Priory struggled and sits in seventh (332).
Mikula used the half-hour delay between the ninth and 10th holes, caused by a backup of players, to his advantage. He grabbed a couple of granola bars from the snack shop and hung out in the shade until it was time to resume the round.
“Last year, there were multiple times I had to wait on the tee and I let it mess with my rhythm,” Mikula said of his 20th-place finish. “Today, I kind of expected it and was able to move forward.”
Mikula, who has spent the entire season as the Rams’ No. 1 player, recorded five birdies and five bogeys. He got off to a good start with birdies on Nos. 5-6 after opening with four successive pars.
“I made a few birdie putts and that helped," Mikula said.
Mikula finished in a tie for fifth during the sectional round and placed fourth in the district tournament.
But he put everything together on Monday after back-to-back solid rounds.
“He came in and he felt good today,” MICDS coach Changa Bey said. “He was consistent all season long and he never makes two bad shots in a row. He’s got a perfect calm demeanor out there.”
MICDS senior Sam Hanser had a feeling Mikula was sitting on a breakout performance.
“I always knew he had something like this in him,” Hanser said. “You could just see it was coming the way he was playing.”
MICDS senior Jeff Desloge fired a 7-over 78 and Hanser, who was a member of the 2016 state championship team, added an 80. Zak Mitra rounded out the scoring with an 83.
“We're exactly right where we want to be — in the mix for it,” Bey said. “You can’t win it on the first day, but you sure can lose it. We’re happy to be in contention.”
Lutheran South senior Zach Shirley fired a 75 and remains in striking distance in fifth place. He finished fourth in the state last season. William Cummings of John Burroughs and Lane Davis of Westminster carded 76s.
Priory won the sectional tournament and appeared to be in good position to defend its crown.
But the Rebels struggled from the outset.
“Nobody had their best day,” Priory coach Jake Parent said. “It was tough out there. We made mistakes and they cost us.”
KOLAR MAKING NOISE IN CLASS 2
Maplewood-Richmond Heights freshman Kal Kolar carded a 2-over-par 74 and sits in second place in the Class 2 tournament at Rivercut Golf Course in Springfield.
Kolar, who rolled to a seven-stroke win in the district tournament at The Falls Golf Club in O’Fallon, is four shots behind Cole Elling, of St. Pius X of Kansas City.
The diminutive Kolar used a red-hot putter to make a run at the top of the leaderboard.
He drilled a 60-footer for a birdie on the second hole and also sank a pair of 30-footers. Ironically, he struggled with his putter during Sunday's practice round.
"I couldn't make one yesterday," he said.
Kolar was 2-under through his first 12 holes before closing 4-over during the final six.
"I got a little nervous," Kolar said. "I kept thinking, 'I could be leading state by the end of this (day).'"
Junior Drew Newlin of Whitfield is third (75) followed by senior Thomas Henson (77) of Hermann
Newlin’s round put the Warriors in second place in the team standings, three strokes behind St. Pius X (341).
Barat senior Max Floyd is in 10th place in the Class 1 tournament at Sedalia Country Club, 10 shots behind leader Trey Burton of Westran.