When Corey Novascone took over as Kapaun Mount Carmel’s golf coach before last season, he knew about the strength of the Crusaders’ boys team.
Kapaun’s boys had captured three of the past four Class 5A state titles and was talented enough to win in 2014 — which it did.
But little did he realize that he was actually being handed the keys to two Ferraris.
Even though Kapaun’s girls were a perennial state contender, they hadn’t won state in 30 years.
The girls had some decent players, but there were a few things needed here and there, according to Novascone.
“I needed to point them in the right direction,” he said.
That guidance – including adding a positive mental focus – helped produce successful scores and Kapaun managed a six-stroke victory over archrival Bishop Carroll to win the 5A state title.
“We peaked at the end of the year,” Novascone said.
One of the keys, he said, was to have the girls treat each practice as if it were a match, complete with the accompanying pressure. From there, he said, he tried to focus on having the girls stay positive.
As the season progressed, the pressure Kapaun faced gradually decreased to the point that the girls were very relaxed at their regional and then once the state tournament began, the agony of a missed putt or wayward drive didn’t seem to faze his team.
“They were probably the most prepared I’d seen them all season,” Novascone said of the 5A state tournament at Tex Consolver Golf Course.
Winning state also gave Kapaun a chance to be rid of some sources of constant frustration.
At the 5A tournament, Kapaun gained a measure of revenge on state runner-up Bishop Carroll, which had defeated Kapaun twice during the season — once at the City League tournament.
“Carroll’s always in the back of our minds,” Novascone said. However, Kapaun’s margin of victory over Carroll was six strokes.
Then, there was the problem of St. Thomas Aquinas, the six-time defending 5A champion. No matter how talented Kapaun’s teams were, Aquinas always seemed to have a way to come out on top. But last year, Aquinas was third, 13 strokes back of Kapaun.
Senior Hannah Perkins, beginning her fourth year on varsity, said Novascone’s pressure practices and preaching of a positive attitude made the difference of winning the state title.
“Staying positive and working on the mental game really helped me at state,” she said. “Don’t let that one hole or one shot affect your game.
“And I think that’s how it will be again this year. Our big rounds are going to be needed.”
Even though Kapaun returns all but one from the state title team, Carroll returns its entire state contingent and will continue to be a thorn in Kapaun’s side.
“We have pressure on our backs,” Perkins said. “We need to go out and play our game and play as good as we can.”
The Crusaders will also be led by senior Hannah Johnston and sophomore Emma Whitaker, who posted a 95 and 86, respectively, at state to go with Perkins’ 92. Senior Katie Miller and sophomores Erin Johnston and Vivian Brown will play a part.
But the lineup can be fluid, Perkins said.
“Every week is a qualifying,” she said. “No one’s spot is set.”
As for Novascone, he’s looking forward to the season-opening Andover Invitational today at Wichita State’s Braeburn Golf Course — a far cry from what he was feeling a year ago.
“I hadn’t dealt with girls before,” Novascone said. “Once I got in, I enjoyed it.”
2 – Kapaun Mount Carmel, North, Northwest, Arkansas City, Andover Central, Valley Center, Maize, Eisenhower, Augusta, Derby, Maize South, Winfield, Circle, Buhler, Collegiate, Andover at Andover Invitational, Braeburn Golf Course, Wichita State University, 9 a.m.; East, Southeast at Emporia Invitational. 8 – GWAL tournament (Northwest host) at Tex Consolver Golf Course, 3:30 p.m. 11 – Bishop Carroll, Northwest, Andover Central, Derby, Arkansas City, Newton, Circle, Eisenhower at Winfield Invitational, 3. 15 – GWAL tournament (Southeast host) at Clapp Golf Course, 3:30. 23 – GWAL tournament (Heights host) at MacDonald Golf Course, 3:30. 25 – Kapaun Mount Carmel, Bishop Carroll, East, Heights, Winfield, Trinity Academy, Independent at Arkansas City Invitational. 29 – GWAL tournament (Bishop Carroll host) at Auburn Hills Golf Course, 3:30.
1 – Bishop Carroll, East, Heights, Kapaun Mount Carmel, Northwest, Southeast, Dodge City, Goddard, Garden City, Maize, Valley Center, Andover, Andover Central, Maize South, Collegiate at North Invitational, Sim Park Golf Course, 1. 2 – Heights at Hutchinson Invitational, The Course at Carey Park, 1. 6 – Southeast, Hutchinson, Eisenhower, Maize, Arkansas City, Winfield, Andover, Mulvane, Newton at Derby Invitational, 3. 7 – City League tournament (North host) at Braeburn Golf Course, WSU, noon; AVCTL Division I-II at Sand Creek Station, Newton, time TBA. 13 – Regionals, TBA. 20 – Class 5A state tournament at Salina; Class 6A state at Topeka.