Maier looks to make 2014 MIAA Championship one to remember


Samantha Zoltanski/The Chart

Junior Ryan Buerk lines up his putt at Twin Hills Golf and Country Club during last year’s Missouri Southern invitational where the Lions finished seventh overall

Another break in the season’s action gives players a chance to fine-tune their game before the season-ending MIAA Tournament at the Alvamar Golf Club in Lawrence next week – a break to hit the range, the training room or, in the case of most of America, to take a seat and watch the pageantry of the Masters last weekend.

The Masters is an event of epic proportions in the golf world most definitely, but one of sport’s most iconic events as well, and while the championship tournament at the end of the Lions’ season may not garner a green jacket, they do hope to bring back some form of hardware.

“It’s important that everyone steps up,” said senior Andrew Maier. “It’s going to take a lot of focus and hard work but I feel like a conference championship is the only way to go out.”

Leading the Lions throughout the year has been junior Ryan Buerk.

A key participant, Buerk has been able to finish in the top 20 in six of his nine overall tournaments this season, with two of those finishes leaving him within the top five.

He also leads the Lions in stroke average with a total of 75.8 per round.

Closely behind, averaging only two shots more per 18, is freshman Taylor Lansford.

Lansford has been a pleasant surprise as he touts the low round for the team this year with a 69 while also finishing in the top 20 four times, one of which was a top five.

Rounding out the big three for the Lions is Maier.

Following a high school career where he was 2009 individual district champion and a four-time state qualifier for the Webb City Cardinals, all after becoming the youngest Ozark Amateur champion at 16 years of age, Maier continues to be a bookend for yet another program.

He has competed in nine tournaments overall this season, compiling a 78 stroke average and finishing in the top 20 twice and the top 10 once.

“Everyone wants to finish their senior year with something to look back on,” said Buerk, “and Andrew feels that way I’m sure. He plays his best golf when he doesn’t put pressure on himself so I expect him to have a fun, solid week at conference to finish his career off with.”

Southern will look to make its mark on the 7,092 yards of manicured grass, and ultimately, on the 2014 schedule, as the championship tournament gets under way on Monday.

“We always seem to turn in two or three good scores toward our goals,” said Buerk, “but if we put together those quality days then we can be a team to contend with.”