Varsity Kansas

Boys golf: Andover looks to regain hot start heading into regional

In the first few weeks of the boys golf season, there was no better team in the Wichita area than Andover.

The Trojans won their first five events, including defeating the defending 5A champ, Kapaun Mount Carmel, by eight shots in the Collegiate Classic at Tallgrass Country Club.

There were four individual scores consistently in the 70s, which was giving Andover four-player team scores around 300, often times the bullseye for winning events.

But a couple of weeks ago, instead of four scores in the 70s and then a couple of more in the low 80s, the Trojans were getting one or two quality scores, which translated into a fourth-place finish at the I-135 Cup and third-place finishes at the Eisenhower Invitational and the AV-CTL II meet.

With a regional Monday at Crestview Country Club that includes state contenders Kapaun, Maize South and Bishop Carroll, Andover has been frantically trying to find momentum.

“When we were winning those tournaments, I think we forgot what it is like to lose,” senior Trent Paske said. “We need to get back to the mindset we had in the beginning. We can make our recent struggles into positives and get our mojo back.”

Coach Ryan Harshaw is viewing his team’s loaded regional as the first 18 holes of a 36-hole tournament. He compared it to making the cut on the PGA Tour. If a team is in the top three after regionals, then they make the cut and get to play in the state tournament in Emporia.

“Our ultimate goal is to compete for the postseason tournaments and sometimes that is easier said than done,” Harshaw said. “I think after we had our early success, we might have gotten complacent. Maybe our recent stretch will re-motivate us and light a fire.”

All six of the Trojans’ lineup has broken 80 at least once this season, with sophomore Zach Sokolosky leading Andover with a scoring average of 75.3. He has been the Trojans’ top finisher in four of seven events.

Paske and fellow senior Umar Ashraf also having scoring averages in the 70s.

“I actually thought we could be this good before the season,” Sokolosky said. “We only lost one senior from last season and I saw a lot of improvement from the guys coming back.”

For as disappointing as the past two weeks have been for Andover, including a season-high 336 at Sand Creek Station last week, the Trojans recognize that anything can happen at an 18-hole event and if they play like they did in April, then a trip to state likely awaits.

“To get of this regional would be an amazing accomplishment for our team,” Ashraf said. “Then we can get on the big stage and know we can compete with anybody in the state.”