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Cordial rivals help Kewpies refine skills

Junior Nick Wilson’s improvement and intensity challenges senior Chris Johnson and drives team.
Friday, April 6, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:06 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

If the Hickman golf squad was a pitching staff, senior Chris Johnson would be the opening day starter and junior Nick Wilson would be the younger but equally talented pitcher waiting for his chance to shine.

Johnson is the Kewpies’ No. 1 man. He is a proven veteran ace with all types of accomplishments behind him. A top 10 finisher in the state tournament last year, Johnson has earned a scholarship at MU for next year.

But Wilson is a solid No. 2 man.

This strong 1-2 punch helped lift Hickman to a fifth place score of 305 in the 19-team William Woods Tournament on Thursday at Tanglewood Golf Course in Fulton. Christian Brothers College High School won the tournament with a 298.

Both players shot a 1-over par 73. Wilson finished third, and Johnson finished fourth after a scorecard playoff. Rockhurst’s Bobby Thompson won with a 72.

Rock Bridge finished eighth, shooting a 318. Bruins senior John Treche shot a team-best 75.

“Chris has been better (than Nick) in the past, but Nick has improved considerably since last year,” Hickman coach Clark Swisher said. “He has really been pushing Chris lately.”

Swisher said the competition is helping the team overall.

“Chris is a perfectionist, so he plays better with someone behind him pushing him, and Nick is always pretty intense.”

Although Johnson finished fourth, he was not particularly pleased with his performance.

“The number (73) might look good, but it felt like 83. I have been thinking about how these scores are reflecting on me, and I need to play better,” Johnson said.

Both players said it is friendly competition.

“We’ll play for dinner and things like that sometimes. I am supposed to beat him, but if he beats me, it helps the team. … I have a good feeling about Nick this year,” Johnson said.

If a little competition helps the team succeed, then neither golfer minds.

“I want to be the best scorer every day,” Wilson said. “I don’t want to just beat Chris. I want to beat everybody.”


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