A ninth-place finish at the 11-team Tiger Classic played Tuesday and Wednesday at Smoky Hill Country Club was a step in the right direction for the Fort Hays State University men’s golf team.

The Tigers had yet to beat a conference opponent in the two previous league tournaments this fall.

“I thought we played really well,” first-year Tiger golf coach Seth Kincaid said. “The first two MIAA tournaments in the fall, we finished last. We weren’t close to beating many people.”

FHSU submitted a team score of 927 through the three-round event, ahead of MIAA members Missouri Southern (931) and Lincoln (947).

The most notable difference from the fall for FHSU is the addition of Ellis graduate Skyler Tebo, who transferred from Missouri-Kansas City at the semester and was the Tigers’ top performer at their only home tournament.

“His first tournament to now, I think every single round he’s improved,” Kincaid said. “He’s playing best golf at the right time of year, so that’s really encouraging to see.”

Tebo followed Tuesday’s rounds of 73 and 71 with a 77 in Wednesday’s final round. His total of 221 tied for 11th place.

“I definitely played better than 221, but it’s better than how I’ve been playing, so I guess that is good,” Tebo said.

“I was kinda hoping for a top five. I was in position today, I just didn’t play that well.”

Isaiah Grover, a redshirt freshman from Cheney, was the Tigers’ No. 2 for the tournament, posting a 231 after turning in an 82 Wednesday.

“Isaiah Grover really stepped up and played really well, especially (Tuesday),” Kincaid said.

Scores were a little higher across the board in Wednesday’s final round with good reason.

“The wind blew pretty hard. The pins were tough,” Tebo said.

“It definitely played a couple shots harder.”

Colton Bobek, a freshman from Plainville, was FHSU’s third golfer posting a 236, while Hays High graduate Cash Hobson was the No. 4 at 239. Dalton Ayres completed the team score at 252.

Central Missouri swept the individual and team titles. The Mules’ team score of 852 was nearly 30 strokes better than second-place Lindenwood’s 881. Alex Springer led UCM with a two-under par 208, which was good for first place, as he finished seven strokes clear of teammate Shayne Allen.

Springer’s highlight of the tournament came when he posted a 61 in Tuesday’s second round, good for the Smoky Hill Country Club course record.

“That’s unbelievable,” Tebo said. “You can do that out here. I mean, it’s a lot of wedges everywhere, but it’s still just unbelievable.”

After starting his career at Garden City Community College then UMKC, the Tiger Classic was the Ellis graduate’s first chance to compete at the local course since high school. It was an experience he seemed to enjoy.

“It’s been several years, and it’s nice to come back and get to play here,” Tebo said.

The Tigers wrap up their season at the MIAA Championship, which runs Monday through Wednesday at Sycamore Ridge Golf Course in Spring Hill.

The Tigers will enter the tournament in the league’s cellar but hope to get out before the season ends.

“We’ll still be a couple points back, but after this week, we know we can go out there and post some good scores,” Kincaid said. “We think that next week at the conference tournament we can finish a couple spots up at that tournament.”