A former Moffat County Bulldog is ending his sophomore year of junior college the best way he can.
Mark Dockstader, a 2011 graduate of MCHS and current sophomore at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Ill., began play Tuesday at the National Junior College Athletic Associaiton Division II National Championships in golf. Dockstader and four teammates are playing at the four-day event at Goose Pond Colony Golf Course in Scottsboro, Ala.
To make it to the national championship, teams had to place in the top two of their region. Dockstader and the Chargers did that during the fall, when they took second in the Region IV tournament by one stroke.
They followed that up with a runner-up finish in the Arrowhead Conference to finish off the spring season heading into nationals.
For the entire team — four sophomores and a freshman — it is their first visit to the national tournament. Dockstader started Tuesday’s round well by shooting an 83 and helping his team to 10th place after a day of play.
For Dockstader, though, it was a frustrating first round on the greens, where he said he left several strokes on the board.
“From tee to green, I played as good as I could have asked,” he said. “I putted terribly, which is usually my rock. The greens and course in general are tough — it’s the national championship. I wasn’t disgusted with an 83, but I definitely left some strokes out there. Half of my strokes were on the green.”
The Chargers shot 302 as a team and are tied for 10th place out of 18 teams. They are amidst a logjam of teams between six and 20 strokes over par but know they can play with the best the nation has to offer.
That’s because Carl Sandburg’s chief rival this year, Black Hawk College, is in second place after the first day, three strokes under par as a team.
“We battled with (Black Hawk) almost every tournament,” Dockstader said. “So we know we have the potential to be one of those teams out in front. At this point, it doesn’t look like we can win, but we want to battle back and be in the top five.”
Dockstader said the Chargers entered nationals hoping to be a top-five competitor and the top finisher from Illinois. That will be a difficult task, but in a 72-hole tournament, teams can go in myriad directions from day to day.
“I’m going to keep positive because I did the things I wanted to and it just didn’t work out for me today,” he said. “To use the old adage, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Dockstader said that if he and his teammates are patient and gain shots throughout the course of the next 54 holes, good things will come for them. Regardless of their finishing position come Friday, he’s thankful to be where he is now.
“It’s been a great two years, these guys are like family to me,” he said. “We’re all just taking it all in and enjoying it. Of course we want to do well, but whatever happens, happens. We’re all feeling blessed to be here.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or email@example.com