The crucial moments of Andover junior Zach Sokolosky’s round in the Class 5A boys golf tournament didn’t totally feel to him like the type that would add up to victory on Monday.
Sokolosky liked his par save from a bunker at Salina Municipal’s fourth hole. And the two-putt par from nearly 100 feet at the seventh was a nice touch.
But when Sokolosky mixed in birdies at the tail end of both nines, he had a formula for success. Sokolosky fired a bogey-free, 3-under-par 67 in rainy conditions to win the 5A individual title by five shots over Bishop Carroll senior Luke Brugman.
Sokolosky and his Andover teammates came agonizingly close to winning their first state title in 10 years. But St. Thomas Aquinas senior Jared Loomis birdied the final hole to give the defending champion Saints a four-man score of 301, one better than the Trojans.
Sokolosky became Andover’s second state medalist in boys golf, joining Noah Smithson, who led the Trojans to the 4A title in 2007.
“I knew it was beatable, but you throw in the weather going on and people really focusing on staying dry, it just kind of throws you out of rhythm,” Sokolosky said. “It was good and rewarding that I really took my time out there.”
Experience may have served Sokolosky well as he won his third individual medal at state in as many attempts. Last year at Emporia, Sokolosky hit a snag after a lengthy rain delay and settled for third behind Maize South’s Wells Padgett and Aquinas’ Jack Seiler.
On Monday, Sokolosky stuck to his game plan despite intermittent showers that challenged the field. He apologized to his playing partners after taking an extended look at an 8-foot par putt, which he made.
“I didn’t hit the ball well to start my round,” Sokolosky said. “I had two up and downs in my first four holes. I thought if I scramble that well all day, I’ll start making birdies.
“I always feel like I’ll start hitting it good.”
Brugman, the City League champion, came closest to Sokolosky. Despite feeling under the weather, Brugman birdied two of his final three holes to claim second.
“I was kind of expecting a few more guys to go under par, but it was good enough to get second today,” Brugman said.
After a suspenseful finish, that was Andover’s finish in the team competition. The Trojans, who got a 76 from senior Chase Oberg, were among the first golfers to complete their rounds. They waited while regional champions Aquinas, St. James Academy, Kapaun Mount Carmel and Salina Central completed play.
Loomis, Aquinas’ last golfer on the course, chipped to within three feet and made a birdie putt on the par-5 18th to give the Saints the victory. Aquinas finished at 301, Andover was at 302 and St. James 303.
“My coach said it would be nice to get a birdie on one of the last two holes,” said Loomis, who shot a 75. “But that’s what he always says, so I wasn’t 100 percent sure.
“I could tell people were pretty anxious sitting near the green, so I knew it might be for something big.”
Kapaun, which had top-20 finishers in Jack Baker and Cooper Steiner, was fifth at 308. Maize was eighth and Carroll finished ninth.
11. (tie) Will Wilk, St. James, 75; Jared Loomis, Aquinas, 75; Bryce Cowan, Seaman, 75; Lukas Freelove, Salina Central, 75; Jack Seiler, Aquinas, 75; Jack Baker, Kapaun, 75; Kelby Titus, Great Bend, 75; 18. (tie) Caden Cox, Maize, 76; Reese Emert, Seaman, 76; Chase Oberg, Andover, 76; Jackson Rohr, Arkansas City, 76; Cooper Steiner, Kapaun, 76.