There is a reason why defeating the Kapaun Mount Carmel boys golf team is such a difficult task.
They are the two-time defending Class 5A champions, led by the state’s best player in senior Sam Stevens, and have the aura surrounding a program that owns 20 state championship rings since 1980.
“There’s definitely that stigma going around Kapaun,” Maize South senior Hayden Padgett said.
That’s why Maize South felt it had accomplished something significant Monday afternoon, not only conquering the Crusaders but winning the Class 5A Regional team title by 23 strokes on a windswept course at Auburn Hills.
Only six players were able to master the 40 mph wind gusts to shoot 81 or better; Maize South had four of them on its way to a team score of 312. Kapaun was second at 335, while Bishop Carroll (340) slid past Heights (345) for the third qualifying slot.
“This is huge for us,” Maize South coach Steve Martling said. “(Kapaun) has been the dominating team for the last several years. It’s exciting for our kids to break through.”
No one was better than Hayden Padgett on Monday. He never had to deal with damage control, played as steady as he ever has, and ended with a pair of birdies to seal medalist honors with his round of 1-over-par 73.
“I was just hitting good shot after good shot,” Padgett said. “I kept it low into the wind. I really played a good round, one of the best I’ve ever had. I’m really happy about it.”
Teammate Cole Christian was runner-up, five strokes behind at 78. Stevens, the two-time defending 5A champion, took third after winning a playoff with Maize South’s Collin Kasitz to break the tie at 80.
Martling knew it was Padgett’s day after approaching him after a bogey on No. 16, a par 3. The coach expected to have to rally his senior for a strong finish.
“He goes, ‘It’s okay, coach, there are two birdie holes left,’” Martling said. “And he went out there and birdied them both.”
It was the first time Maize South has finished ahead of Kapaun in a tournament.
The Mavericks had six of the top 13 in Hayden Padgett (73), Cole Christian (78), Collin Kasitz (80), Wells Padgett (81), Trevor Bauer (83), and Nick Wagner (85).
“Mentally, it’s a lot better knowing we can beat them now that we did,” Christian said. “It’s definitely nice to have that feeling going into state.”
While Heights missed a team bid narrowly, it did qualify Luke Gannon, Caleb Haight, and Zach Pitcher. Gilvon Darkis, a senior transfer from Labette County, became the first golfer from West to qualify individually since the turn of the century.
It was a stunning defeat, but Kapaun was by no means ready to relinquish its stranglehold at state. Coach Corey Novascone was adamant his players are in store for a bounceback performance at the Wichita Country Club next Tuesday.
“From day one, I told them when I played here 20 years ago the thing I remember most is when I lost state,” Novascone said. “It’s weird that I’m a 38-year-old man still thinking about losing state. There’s nothing worse than having a good team and losing state. So I can promise you my guys will be ready on Tuesday.”