COLUMBIA — The closer they got to home, the louder it got.
A trip to Springfield, Mo., for Monday and Tuesday's Class 4 Boys Golf State Championship meant a longish bus ride for members of the Rock Bridge team, but after claiming the title at Twin Oaks Country Club, the journey home was more fun than expected.
"They're in full celebratory mode right now," Bruins coach Doug Daniels shouted over his phone as his team's bus approached Ashland. "They're just making up chants as they go along. When we first started out, they were all telling each other stories about their games. But for the past 40 minutes ..."
The Bruins had reason to celebrate.
After Monday's first round, Rock Bridge was in a tie for second, nine strokes off the lead at 321. But on Tuesday, the Bruins took 26 shots off their Day 1 total to earn the championship with a 614 two-day total that beat second-place Rockhurst by 17 strokes.
Senior Wilson Sundvold, who shot a 76 on Monday, came back with a 72 on Tuesday to lead Rock Bridge with a third-place individual finish. The Bruins had two other golfers finish in the top 15 for all-state honors, and a fourth was just a stroke off the mark.
"I've always known this team has a lot of depth," Daniels said. "I'm just gratified to see everyone play well at the same time. When at about the 14th hole, the reports I was getting showed that everyone was doing that, I said to myself, 'Hey, this could be a good day.'"
William Echelmeier improved by five shots on Tuesday, and Austin Evans took nine shots off his game, and the pair finished in a three-way tie for 14th at 155. Tyler Kolb finished at 156 to tie with Hickman's Cruz Buchanan for 17th, and Warren Szewczyk shot a 79 on Tuesday to finish in a four-way tie for 59th at 165. Hickman's Tyler Daly finished in a four-way tie for 27th at 159.
"Having all five under 80, well that's always the key, how your four and five guys do," Daniels said.
Things hadn't gone so well on Monday, and ending up back in the pack wasn't where the Bruins wanted to be after settling for second at last season's state championship.
Daniels said Sundvold, who had finished eighth at the past two state championships, was especially bothered by his first-round effort. After scorecards were turned in, Daniels said Sundvold left with his father, former Missouri basketball and NBA standout Jon Sundvold, for the nearest driving range to work on his game.
"He was very serious, focused and determined during today's competition," Daniels said. "He didn't win an individual state title, but now I think he's happier that the team got the championship.
"Right now he's one of those guys chanting and making goofy noises back there at the back of the bus."