In any other regional, the Heights boys golf team would likely be a state qualifier, but the Falcons were given the unlucky assignment of drawing Kapaun Mount Carmel, Maize South and Bishop Carroll in their Class 5A regional Monday at Auburn Hills.
Kapaun is the defending state champion, while Maize South took third a year ago. Carroll has shot below 300 in each of the City League tournaments this season and even defeated Kapaun in one of them.
Only three teams qualify for the 5A at Wichita Country Club, and Heights coach Austin Sander said things will have to break right in order for his team to go.
“We need to keep our fingers crossed,” Sander said. “Those other three teams are loaded and we know we have to play well.”
The four schools played in the season-opening Carroll Invitational at Auburn Hills a month ago and Kapaun won by 22 strokes over Maize South and Carroll. Heights was 25 strokes out of second place and shot 363.
But since then, the Falcons have shot 302, 310, 322 and 307 in City League tournaments.
“I like playing Auburn Hills, it’s a good track,” senior Caleb Haight said. “All we can do is grind and see what happens on Monday.”
The Falcons’ top three players — Haight, Luke Gannon and Austin Pitcher — all finished in the City League’s top ten in scoring average. But Heights’ next best average was in the upper 80s, which Sander said will not be good enough for a state tournament bid.
The forecast is calling for windy conditions Monday, which is what Gannon wants. He speculates the wind could negate better scores and the Falcons could sneak their way into the top three.
“I think the wind blowing only helps our chances,” Gannon said. “It is a tough course. When we played there at the beginning of the year, the wind was also blowing, so we can use that as a learning experience.”
Sander thinks the Falcons will have to shoot below 310 to have a chance, which isn’t that far-fetched, but it would take Heights’ top three playing typical, if not better golf than normal, and one of the remaining varsity players having a career day.
“First and foremost, our top three players have to play well, because if that doesn’t happen there is no chance,” Sander said. “Then we need someone else to step up. If that happens, then we need to hope that one of the other top three teams stumble and give us a chance.”