Scotus Central Catholic senior Bryce VunCannon, a state medalist a year ago, will have the opportunity to collect a second straight piece of state hardware next week thanks to a top-10 round at the district meet on Tuesday.
VunCannon shot even par (72) and was fifth in the running at Jackrabbit Run Golf Course in Grand Island. He was tied with Marcus Eriksen of Grand Island Northwest but lost out for fourth on tiebreaker criteria.
Three players shot 71 and forced an on-course tiebreak that York's Reed Mallek eventually emerged from as the district champion. The top 10 players at each of five district meets plus the top three teams are invited to state.
"Bryce shot really well. We knew he was going to do that. We knew he would come in and put a 75 or better together," coach Tyler Swanson said. "But I think the moment was a little too big for some other guys on our team.
"It came down to nerves. The pressure gets on you, and you just can't replicate that in practice or any other invite throughout the year when it comes down to districts."
Although VunCannon was a top-10 player one shot off the leaders, Scotus had a 334 total as a team and finished in fifth place. Hastings Adams Central with a 300, York on a 304 and Northwest with a 308 took the top three spots.
Northwest edged out Seward's 311 for the final state bid.
"It was mostly off the tee and our approach shots. A lot of that was coming up short and having to chip on almost every hole (and) not hitting greens in regulation," Swanson said. "If you want to score at a course like Jackrabbit, you've got to hit the green in regulation, two-putt and take your par or bogey.
"We had a lot of situations where guys were not in the fairway."
Scotus was at state as a team last year and in three of the past four years leading up to 2019.
VunCannon tied for 34th at state as a freshman, tied for 22nd as a sophomore and put together a 76-78 last year while earning a medal.
He'll get to stay home for the state tournament starting next Tuesday at Elks Country Club.
"He was calm and comfortable the whole time. He's done this a bunch of times. The district tournament today was not the biggest tournament he's played in," Swanson said. "He went out, had a plan and executed his plan very well.
"He was a little disappointed he didn't have more birdies than he did, but he burned the edge on eight or nine holes just an inch or two away from knocking some more in. He gets a couple of those to fall and he's district champion."
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.