Editor's Note: “A Look at Times Gone By” is an in-depth look at weekly Times Gone By entries compiled by the Enterprise's Debbie Kellogg since 2015. These articles will appear in each edition as local teams anticipate new seasons, whenever they should resume.
Fort Calhoun junior varsity golfers Kyle Ford and Kraig Nelson shot the low scores of the Pioneers' 2000 season opener in Tekamah.
Cody Thurston led the varsity with a 43 — one more than Ford and Nelson — as Adam Duros (45), Brent Wallace (48) and Joel Miller (48) beat the Tigers by three strokes under coaches Mike Pitt and Jill Shields.
It was a win, but probably didn't come off like the start of something special — a three-year run of Fort Calhoun state qualifications.
Months later, Thurston became the first-ever Pioneer to qualify for the Class C1 State Golf Championships. He qualified solo again in 2001 before the team reached the 2002 tournament together.
“Before Thurston qualified for state, Fort Calhoun had the ready-made excuse for having one of the newest golf programs in the state,” Enterprise Sports Editor Jerry Campany wrote in 2000. “The Pioneers were not expected to accomplish anything like this until they had paid their dues.
“Consider those dues paid in full by Thurston.”
Before districts, the 2000 Fort Calhoun golf squad competed at Ashland Country Club in the Nebraska Capital Conference Tournament. The Pioneers finished second with Thurston in fourth. He shot an 83 over 18 holes, while Duros carded an 84.
That effort led into the district golf tournament at Pines Country Club in Valley. Fort Calhoun finished fourth with Fremont Bergan, finishing with 354 strokes.
The record books show Thurston in seventh place at that meet. He made state with an 83, not because he took that many swings, but because that's how many the scorecard showed. Thankfully, the error didn't cost him a state berth — the top-10 cutoff was 85 strokes — but it did drop him from fourth, which is where he would have finished had his 81 been marked correctly.
Duros was just three strokes shy of his own state berth, while Ford's 91 was fourth among No. 3 golfers at the tournament. Nick Rupe carded a 92, while Wallace shot a 96.
The Arlington golf team also completed districts in Valley, finishing ninth out of 12 teams. David Reed led the Eagles with an 18-hole 88, while Ross Koley (91), Josh Hilgenkamp (93), Troy Gilmore (99) and Ryan Byrd (101) followed suit.
Blair, meanwhile, played its district tournament at Wayne Country Club. Isaac Newton led the Bears with an 81, while Jason Limbach carded an 82. Nick Swaney finished with 86 strokes, Pat Heimann had 90 and Jayme Adam notched 93.
Newton's score was short of a state qualification, and BHS finished fourth, meaning Thurston was the only Washington County golfer to reach the state tournament in 2000.
The Pioneer outdrove his foursome on two of the first three holes at Mahoney Golf Course in Lincoln before finishing with a first-day 86. He carded an 85 the next day, finishing with a 171 — 30 shy of first-place Nathan Lashley of Mitchell.
Thurston again reached the state tourney in 2001, finishing with a 36-hole 165, before his team qualified in 2002. Fort Calhoun's only ever state-qualifying team finished last, though Thurston led the way with a 167. Mike Hallberg shot a 180, while Joel Miller had a 187. Nelson and Matt Smith added 196s at the 18-year-old meet.