Other Varsity Sports

Local teams win golf regionals, bring scorching play into state tournaments

Kapaun junior Jack Baker shot a 67 at the Crusaders' regional tournament Monday to lead his team to a 14-stroke win heading into state.
Kapaun junior Jack Baker shot a 67 at the Crusaders' regional tournament Monday to lead his team to a 14-stroke win heading into state. The Wichita Eagle

Jack Baker shot a 67 at Kapaun's regional high school golf tournament on Monday, and the next-lowest score didn't even break par.

Baker was a catalyst in the Crusaders' 14-stroke regional win, but he wasn't the only one. With all but one player shooting at or below his average, Kapaun is the hottest golf team in Kansas heading into the biggest tournament of the season.

"We made it look pretty easy today," coach Dan Harrison said.

After winning the City League Championship last week, Harrison said he wanted his guys to play "boring golf." He wanted them to hit the fairway, knock it on the green and two-putt every time. If a birdie presented itself, take it, but don't force anything.

Harrison said that was what they did at the regional, and it worked. Baker said the team is playing its best golf of the season.

That is an understatement.

No Crusader shot worse than 79 on Monday. Four placed in the top 10, and only one player didn't win his pairing. Harrison said the start was the key.

All the Kapaun players started well and set the tone for themselves and in their group.

"We avoided the big numbers," he said. "I think we only had a couple double (bogeys)."

Harrison said if a player had a bad stretch with a few bogeys, he almost always followed it up with a roll of birdies. Baker epitomized that.

Baker shot 2-under on the front nine, with four birdies. Harrison said back-to-back birdies early in the round got his confidence up and that carried him through the back nine.

"I hit some good wedge shots and got a lot of balls within five feet," Baker said. "That's right where I want it. I'm pretty automatic within five feet.

"That's in the go-zone."

Baker said the team has focused in for this late stretch of the season. Early this year, it wasn't uncommon to joke around at practice. Guys headed to the chipping green when chipping was one of their strongest parts of their game.

Now, it is about putting the right kind of work in, and that has paid off, Baker said. Kapaun shot a combined 292 on Monday. Only St. Thomas Aquinas had a better team score at 281, but Baker said there is more to come.

"I think we have a lot better golf coming up next week, too," he said. "We're really starting to find our rhythm."

Carroll wins in Liberal

Carroll couldn't top Kapaun in the City League, but it got back in the win column at its regional tournament.

The Golden Eagles beat Maize South by nine strokes to top the Class 5A Liberal regional and qualify for the state tournament next week.

Junior Tyler Gatley led the way at +3, finishing fourth in the individual standings. Carroll's other top finishers included Carson Towey (+6) and Grant Gooch (+8).

Carroll will run into Kapaun again Monday at the state tournament in Kansas City, but a regional victory should bode well for the Eagles heading in.

Andover Central tops Trinity

The Jaguars were prowling in Wellington.

Andover Central beat Trinity Academy in its Class 4A regional tournament by 12 strokes to bring momentum into next week's state tournament in Emporia. Five Jaguars finished in the top 11.

Sophomore Cooper Schultz was Andover Central's top finisher at 3-over. Other top finishers included juniors Peyton Wilson and Keegan Ellington (+6).

Andover Central is coming off an AVCTL II title over crosstown rival Andover. With the regional win to pair, the Jaguars should be one of the top competitors in Class 4A.