So much for modest expectations.
Prior to teeing off Tuesday at the Class 4A state golf tournament, Trinity Academy’s Alex Carro admitted he had a simple goal.
“I just came here wanting to medal,” Carro said. “If I did that, I knew I’d walk away being satisfied and pleased with my play.”
After two holes at Firekeeper Golf Course, Carro had something much bigger creeping into his mind. Something along the lines of challenging for the state title.
Two birdies to start the round will do that.
“I was thinking higher, but I was still trying to keep my head on straight,” Carro said. “I didn’t want to get too ahead of myself.”
Carro couldn’t keep up the torrid pace, but didn’t fall all that far off it either. The senior-to-be held things together well enough to post a 3-over 75 that tied him for sixth with Kansas City Piper’s Alec Wuellner. Carro won the playoff with a par on the first hole to take sixth.
Trinity teammate Austin Shanks just missed finishing in the top 10, but not after doing his darndest to get there. After finishing in a six-way tie for eighth with a 4-over 76, Shanks battled Iola’s Shane Walden in a playoff for 10th that lasted seven holes, winding up 11th after he air-mailed the green on the seventh playoff hole and ended up with a double bogey.
“That was very, very grueling,” Shanks said. “Seven more holes after walking out here — it was pretty long — was tough, but it was fun.”
Hayden captured the team title, posting a 314 to beat runner-up Buhler by 15 strokes. The Crusaders got a 12th from Dylan Schmitt, who was also in the six-man playoff at 76, and finished with a 329, while Ottawa was third with a 333.
“We thought we could win a state championship, but we would have been disappointed if we came here and didn’t get a trophy,” said Buhler coach Brennan Torgerson whose team posted its highest state-finish in program history. “If we’re not getting first, we want second and we’re very happy with second. I thought our kids really battled today not playing their best.”
Bonner Springs’ Marc McClain grabbed the individual state crown, shooting a 3-under 69. The Brave was the only player to break par, winning by three shots over Tonganoxie’s Drew Sandburg (72) despite making bogey on his final hole.
Carro easily could have joined the hunt for the title had he been able to maintain his hot early start. But he was hardly disappointed with his 75, which was his lowest score of the year.
“I think it’s the best round I’ve played,” Carro said. “It’s the toughest rated course in Kansas, but I knew after playing a couple practice rounds that if I could keep the ball in play off the tee, I’d score well. I proved that on the first two holes with my birdies. I stumbled a bit coming home and was leaking some oil, but this is a big confidence boost for me.”
While Carro got off to a hot start, Shanks did the opposite. He took a triple-bogey seven on No. 2, putting him in an early hole.
But Shanks rebounded nicely, playing his final 16 holes in just 1 over to give himself a shot at the top 10.
“I just settled in and told myself to forget about it,” Shanks said. “I just focused on one shot at a time and that’s pretty much what I did the rest of the day.”
Augusta’s Jake Becker also shot a 76 and was in the six-way playoff for eighth, taking 13th after being eliminated on the first hole.
Andale’s Jordan Anderson was a regional champion last week, but slipped to an 84 and tied for 35th. The Indians were sixth as a team with a 341.
Hayden 314, Buhler 329, Ottawa 333, Iola 334, Larned 340, Andale 341, Bonner Springs 348, KC Piper 349, Labette County 349, El Dorado 352, Independence 354, Goodland 355.
1. McClain, Bonner Springs, 69; 2. Sandburg, Tonganoxie, 72; 3. Gage Ihrig, Goodland, 74; 4. Elder, Wamego, 74; 5. Ernst, Miege, 74; 6. Carro, Trinity Academy, 75; 7. Wuellner, KC Piper, 75; 8. Falley, Hayden, 76; 9. Waters, Wamego, 76; 10. Walden, Iola, 76; 11. Shanks, Trinity, 76; 12. Schmitt, Buhler, 76; 13. Becker, Augusta, 76; 14. (tie) Holaday, Holton, 77; Allen, Fort Scott, 77; Olmsted, Ottawa, 77; and Amrein, Hayden, 77; 18. (tie) Krewson, Labette County, 78; Gan. Ihrig, Goodland, 78; and Walter, Anderson County, 78.