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Owasso's Ben Stoller wins rain-shortened 6A state golf title
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6A BOYS GOLF STATE TOURNAMENT

Owasso's Ben Stoller wins rain-shortened 6A state golf title

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BROKEN ARROW — Ben Stoller’s Tuesday included a nap in his truck, Anakin Skywalker, buckets of rain, hours of wait and something that made it all worthwhile.

The Oklahoma Class 6A state boys golf championship.

“It was a big goal of mine,” Stoller said under an awning at soaked Forest Ridge Golf Club.

Stoller already had a 6A team title. That came two years ago in Edmond when his second-round 68 helped propel Owasso past perennial champion Edmond North.

North came back to reclaim the team title Tuesday when late morning/early afternoon rainfall drenched the course and prompted the cancellation of the scheduled third round. The Huskies’ 14-shot lead from Monday’s 36 holes became their margin of victory over second-place Jenks.

Stoller’s 1-shot edge over defending individual champion Jordan Wilson of Edmond North held up as well. The Owasso junior shot back-to-back 2-under rounds of 70 Monday.

How was he playing Tuesday before the rain came?

“I was putting really well. I made two 25-footers for par,” he said. “But I was hitting it everywhere. I was not striking the ball. I was one-over through seven. I had an outside look at birdie on the hole whenever they called it. I was starting to hit it well right before they called it. The putter was feeling great.”

They called players off the course around 10:45 a.m. Stoller headed for his truck and tried to rest.

“I sat there for 30 minutes trying to go to sleep and couldn’t. Actually, I dozed off a little bit,” he said. “I watched ‘Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith’ for a while.”

Two hours later, the course was deemed too waterlogged to finish the tournament. Monday’s results stood.

“I wish they wouldn’t have called it. I would have loved to compete,” Stoller said between congratulations from fellow golfers. “But that’s how it happened.”

Everyone was bummed about the rain. Shaun Stoller, Ben’s dad, collapsed his umbrella and it sounded like one of those overfilled pails of water spilling down on a kids’ splash pad.

But the medal Stoller was wearing made the cold, wet day completely bearable.

“We’re thrilled,” said Angie Stoller, Ben’s mom.

“He played really good golf yesterday and started out well today,” Shaun Stoller said. “Disappointed in the weather, that we didn’t have the full experience with 54 holes. But for the experience we got, he played better than anybody else.”

Shaun and Angie will follow their son through a June that includes junior amateur events in Edmond, Lake Forest, Illinois, and Nicholasville, Kentucky. They’ll help see Ben through his senior year at Owasso, then will watch him play for their alma mater at Kansas State.

“We’ve bled purple since the day I was born,” the 17-year-old Stoller said. “That’s the only team we ever cheer for.”

Stoller’s college choice feels a bit destined, then.

Just like Tuesday’s state championship.

“I have the cutest picture of Ben from when he got his first set of golf clubs from my dad. He was two,” Angie Stoller said. “My dad bought him his first non-plastic set of clubs and we went to the driving range in Kansas City. A putter, a driver and an iron in this little bag.”

Ben has graduated to bigger and better tools since then, but his passion for the craft hasn’t wavered at all.

“I like to golf. I like to work out. I like to eat,” he said, grinning. “That’s just about it.”

The winning is pretty sweet, too.

“Just to come back (from the 2020 season canceled by COVID-19) and have a good season, and be back in a competitive nature with my team and my friends,” the state champ said, “that’s just a great feeling.”

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Sports Columnist

I'm the proud father of Gretchen and Holden. Devoted husband to Christy, who has been my best friend since biology class at Booker T. Washington. I covered the OU Sooners for 15 years. That was both challenging and rewarding. Now I get to write columns.

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