LAWRENCE— The fight to finish in the top four was going to be a battle. That was clear heading into the District III men’s golf meet as six teams were ranked in the Top 20 or receiving votes. With that top four finish came a spot in the NJCAA National Championships.
The battle for the Barton Community College men’s golf team came up short, finishing sixth. But sophomore Landon Fox earned a spot at the tournament with his eighth place finish at Alvamar Golf Club in Lawrence.
Indian Hills (Iowa) won the event with a 910, edging out Dodge City (911) by a single stroke. Iowa Western (921) and Hutchinson (932) will also be taking their teams to the NJCAA Championships in May at Sand Creek Station in Newton. Garden City (949) and Barton (950) missed out.
The District III meet was one of the toughest in the nation as Indian Hills came in ranked No. 3, Hutchinson No. 4, Dodge City No. 7, Iowa Western No. 13, Garden City No. 18 and Barton receiving votes for the Top 20.
“We figured we would have to play pretty well in order to qualify the team for nationals,” Coach Doug Kaiser said. “With that many ranked teams and several of the teams ranked high it wasn’t going to be easy. We had a shot but it was going to take playing very well.”
The schools played 36 holes Monday and 18 more Tuesday to determine the champion. After the first 18 holes Barton was sitting in fourth place with a 316. The Cougars followed with rounds of 315 and 319 but that wasn’t good enough to keep up with the quality field.
In fact during the final 18 holes on Tuesday three schools – Dodge City (296), Indian Hills (299) and Iowa Western (299) – all shot sub 300 scores. No one shot under 300 the opening 36 holes.
“The second day much nicer weather so I figured the scores would be lower.” Coach Kaiser said. “Our kids seem to like the cool, damp conditions. I kind of wish it had stayed that way all three rounds.”
The Cougars started the final 18 holes nine strokes out of a top four spot with Iowa Western and Hutchinson tied for third and fourth. But as Iowa Western was blistering the course with its 299 Hutchinson fired a 310 and stayed solidly in the fourth spot.
Garden City passed the Cougars on the final day with a 312.
Fox was in the Top 10 the entire way and was in fact alone if first after the opening 18 holes. The sophomore from Winfield shot a 1-over par 73 to take the early lead. He came back Monday afternoon with a 77 and remained tied for the top spot with Dodge City’s Zach Kirby, Iowa Western’s Alister Balcombe, Indian Hill’s George Trujillo, and Garden City’s Skyler Tebo at 6-over par 150.
But on the final day Kirby made his way around the course in 3-under 69 to win the individual honors by three strokes. He finished the tournament with a 3-over total of 219. Balcome was second with a 222. Jack Rickabaugh of Dodge City closed out with a 2-under 70 the final day to take third at 225.
Fox finished his district play with a 78 and a 12-over 228.
Natchapol Srinoon, fresh off his 5-under 67 to close out the Jayhawk Conference championships in a tie for first, couldn’t find that same groove at Alvamar. Srinoon started the event with 79 and 76 on Monday and sat tied for 10th heading into the final 18 holes. But the freshman from Thailand closed with a 78 and fell to 14th place with a total of 233, missing a spot at the NJCAA Championships by three storkes.
Andrew Iverson started his tournament in the 70s but dropped to the 80’s the final two rounds. The freshman from Arkansas City finished 79-82-80—241 tied for 23rd. Jared Oelke, a freshman from Ellinwood had a tough first round then found his swing finishing 87-80-83—250 for 28th place.
Sophomore Koby Beougher was steady throughout with an 85-83-83—351 for 29th. WaKenney freshman Blake Huxman had a tough round Monday afternoon, finishing 81-94-82—257 for 32nd.
Fox will take part in the NJCAA Championships May 11-14 at Sand Creek Station. That is the same place the Cougars just played the Jayhawk Conference Championships. During that meet Fox was tied for the lead after 36 holes with a pair of par 72 rounds before shooting a 76 and ending 4-over tied for fourth.
“Landon knows the course so that will obviously be helpful,” Coach Kaiser said. “He is a sophomore so this is a good way for him to close out his career here at Barton. If he just swings the club as he is capable he will do just fine.”