Indian golfers settle for third
By AUSTIN COLBERT
If the top six scores counted, the Hays High School boys' golf team would be tough to beat. As it is, only the top four count toward the total score, meaning to compete for championships a team needs to have at least one player pushing par.
And as of right now, the Indians just don't have anyone doing that.
"If they can just feel it and have it happen once, then it becomes easier," Hays High golf coach Mark Watts said. "We got to have somebody start going low. If we want to compete with the big boys at state, then we got to get some people shooting down close to par. And I think we are capable, it's just doing it and getting it done."
The best Hays High could muster on Tuesday at the Bob Blazer/Hays High Invitational at Smoky Hill Country Club was an 80 by senior Kaden Beilman. While none of the Indians' six varsity golfers shot worse than 88, their lack of super low scores meant settling for a third-place finish in the 12-team field.
"I didn't think that we played as good as we could play. How we practiced, I thought we had a good week of practice before this tournament and I thought our guys were ready," Watts said. "We took a step back today from what we did in Garden City. The reason I say this is because it's our home course. You don't want to have the kind of day you had on your home course."
Cash Hobson (83 for 10th place), Payton Ruder (85), Lane Clark (85), Nathan Romme (85) and Chase Lynd (88) rounded out the list for Hays High. The Indians' four-player total was 333; two strokes shy of second-place Dodge City and seven short of first-place Hutchinson. Garden City (340) took fourth and Goodland (342) took fifth.
Beilman, the Indians' top returning state qualifier from last year, finished in sixth place. Dodge City senior Levi Bone was the individual champion with a 74, followed by the 77 of Garden City freshman Taylor Larsen. Hutchinson's Turner Wintz took third with a 78, with Goodland's duo of Gannon and Gage Ihrig both shooting 79 to tie for fourth.
If there is a silver lining to the Indians' subpar performance, it was their dominance over teams it will see again when it hosts a Class 5A regional May 19. Great Bend (357 for seventh place), Salina South (369 for ninth), Salina Central (374 for 10th) and Liberal (386 for 11th) will all be in Hays High's regional, vying for a trip to the state tournament in Wichita.
Valley Center and Newton also will be part of the Hays regional.
And if Tuesday's scores are any indication, the Indians should be in good position to get back to the state tournament. The goal until then will be finding someone that can consistently hit low numbers to give Hays High a chance at medaling should a trip to state be in the works.
"These problems that we have are correctable. We just have to get back on the range," Watts said. "And their work ethic is good. I can't complain about any of that. They show up, they work. They just need to learn to focus on those weaknesses and really work on those."
The Indians are back at it on Thursday with a tournament in Dodge City and another at Salina on Friday. Tee time for both is 3 p.m.