As the Andover golf team was on its way back from its regional tournament, where the Trojans shot a four-man total of 332 and took second place, coach Ryan Harshaw overheard his team talking about atoning for their performance at last season’s Class 5A tournament.
Andover, which will play in its third consecutive state tournament Tuesday at Sand Creek Station in Newton, shot 349 last year and finished ninth out of 12 teams.
“I think the guys are more motivated this year,” Harshaw said. “Overall we have played better this year heading into state and we are going to have to play even better once we get there.”
Junior Trent Paske thinks there was some mental fatigue that hindered the Trojans at state last season. He also thinks there is a greater focus this time around.
“Going into state last year, we had been playing relatively well, but we were not in it mentally,” Paske said. “This year, we are playing a course we are more familiar with and I feel like we are peaking at the right time.”
Even playing a course they are comfortable with, the Trojans are going to have to play nearly perfect and hope for help from some 5A contenders such as defending champion Kapaun Mount Carmel and up-and-coming Maize South.
“It is going to take one of those days for us to have a chance,” Andover senior Chris Cunningham said. “It’s fun to think about having a chance to win and I know this is the best team I’ve been on in my four years here.”
Paske said he prefers the wind to blow and the conditions to be less than ideal so Andover can grind out rounds, which is something he feels like the Trojans are best at.
“We know that if conditions are ideal, that will hinder our chances,” Paske said. “We know we probably can’t win on talent alone.”
Of Andover’s 10 tournaments this season, four golfers have led the team in scoring, including freshman Zach Sokolosky, who was the Trojans’ low score six times. There was only one time when one of the Trojans didn’t shoot in the 70s.
“We have only one senior, so we have a good core of young guys,” Harshaw said. “We have six guys that are capable of being the low score.”
Rose Hill to 4A – Based on how his team had played throughout the spring, Rose Hill golf coach Steve Siemens figured his team would be in the mix for a state tournament bid. After all, the Rockets shot a four-man 308 in the regular season at Cherry Oaks last month.
A regional title, though? That was not something he was expecting or ever would.
“Regionals can be so stressful,” Siemens said. “Because you never know how things are going to play out. It is a lot different than a regular-season tournament.”
The Rockets shot 314 at Wellington Golf Course’s regional, which were eight strokes better than Trinity Academy. Rose Hill was led by Parker Austin, who made three birdies en route to a 3-over 73.
The 4A tournament is at Turkey Creek in McPherson — it will be played on Wednesday after a delay announced by the KSHSAA on Monday — and Siemens feels like the Rockets’ home course, Hidden Lakes, is similar.
“I think Turkey Creek sets up well for us,” Siemens said. “There are three or four holes where we will have to be cautious, but I think we can throw 315-325 up there and see where that lands us.”