Following his 18th-place finish at the Class 4A tournament last season, it didn't take long for Augusta junior golfer Trey Hayden to get back to pounding balls on the practice range.
As a whole, Hayden's 2009 results were good. He had six top-10 finishes, including placing second at the Orioles' own tournament.
But Hayden isn't the kind of guy to be content with top-10 finishes. So countless hours were spent at Wichita Country Club with people trying to help Hayden develop a consistent swing and a better chance of competing with the state's elite.
"We really worked hard on getting my swing more on plane, which would make it more consistent," Hayden said. "I'm managing my game really well right now and avoiding the big mistakes. The hard work has paid so far."
Hayden opened his season with two scores under par. He shot a 1-under 71 at Wellington, and then shot a 2-under 70 last week at the Andover Central Invitational, where he was medalist. His stroke average is down by three shots from last season.
While winning tournaments is nice, winning the important ones — league, regionals and state — is why Hayden worked so feverishly in the offseason. Aside from his state finish last year, Hayden took eighth at league and fourth at regionals.
"I want to be playing well when the postseason comes around," Hayden said. "I need to ride this confidence and so far, it feels good."
No more hiding — With three defending state champions in the area, along with perennial powers Kapaun Mount Carmel and Bishop Carroll, it can become easy for teams to fly under the radar and get little attention.
Maize had this luxury before the season, but after four consecutive second-place finishes starting the season, the Eagles are now one of the top teams in Class 6A.
"It's time for us to quit being the bridesmaid," Maize coach Mike Darrah said. "We have five guys back from last season's team that finished seventh at state. There is a lot of potential on this team."
Last week at Terradyne Country Club, Maize nearly knocked off defending 3A champion Collegiate, shooting 299 and losing by a stroke.
Sophomore Kramer Howell led the Eagles with a 70 and lost in a playoff for top medalist.
Along with Howell, Maize has three other golfers averaging in the 70s: Ryan Better (73), Sebastian Nordeborg (77) and Daniel Marsh (79).
"I absolutely thought this group could be good," Darrah said. "We have high expectations and want to win every tournament."