BY JIM MISUNAS
SALINA – Great Bend’s Kelby Titus joined the Class 5A golfers in a valiant battle against Mother Nature, which pelted the players with light to moderate rain most of the day.
Titus tied for 10th (75) and lost a playoff for a top 10 medal captured by Landen King of Blue Valley Southwest at Salina Municipal Golf Course. The greens putted true and the course handled the rain beautifully.
Titus started with a 3-putt and carded three bogeys in four holes when he missed a pair of 3-foot par putts on the back nine. He 3-putted twice and bogeyed both holes.
“My ball-striking was good because I hit it where I wanted most of the time,” Titus said. “It didn’t start with a good day putting. My short game wasn’t there at the beginning. But you’ve got to keep on playing.”
Titus showed his poise and maturity by playing the next 13 holes in 1-over-par. He gave away one stroke when he misfired on an 80-yard pitch shot at the par 5 No. 18 hole.
Titus converted up-and-downs for par four times. He nearly saved a fifth par after hitting two shots from bunkers, but missed his putt at his finishing No. 9 hole.
“After that, it was pretty nice golf,” he said. “My chipping today was perfect. I hit a lot of good shots. If I hadn’t got that poor start, I would’ve been right there with the 73s.”
Titus celebrated a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 4, his 13th hole of the day with a fist pump on his best putt.
“That birdie putt was the key for my score today,” he said. ‘I hit a really good putt.”
Titus said the rain forced players to switch into drier clothes from time-to-time and use their umbrellas to stay dry.
“Everybody handled it pretty well,” he said.
Andover High’s Zach Sokolosky shot 3-under-par 67 keyed by a trio of birdies to win the 5A state championship by five strokes over Wichita Carroll’s Luke Brugman (72).
St. Thomas Aquinas captured back-to-back team championships (301) on Jared Loomis' closing birdie at the 18th hole to win by one stroke over four-time champion Andover High (302) with Lenexa-St. James (303) and Salina South (304) close behind in the tightest finish in state history.
5A STATE GOLF
SALINA MUNICIPAL GC, PAR 70
TEAM SCORES—1—St. Thomas Aquinas 301; 2—Andover High 302; 3—Lenexa-St. James 303; 4—Salina South 304; 5—Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel 308; 6—Salina Central 311; 7—Blue Valley SW 313; 8—Maize 314; 9—Wichita Carroll 316; 10—Topeka Seaman 323; 11—Shawnee Mill Valley 328; 12—Emporia 341
TOP 20 MEDALISTS—1—Zach Sokolosky, Andover, 34-33—67; 2—Luke Brugman, Carroll, 35-37—72; 3—Gentry Scheve, Emporia, 35-38—73 (won playoff); 4—Cameron Riley, Liberal, 35-38—73 (won playoff); 5—Cannon Miller, Aquinas, 35-38—73 (won playoff); 6—Jordan Klis, St. James, 38-35—73 (won playoff); 7—Parker Renz, SS, 35-38—73; 8—Brayden Neuschafer, SC, 36-38—74 (won playoff); 9—Josh Reed, SS, 38-36—74; 10—Landen King, BVSW, 39-36—75 (won playoff); Kelby Titus, Great Bend, 36-39—75; William Wilk, St. James, 38-37—75; Jared Loomis, Aquinas, 37-38—75; Bryce Cowan, Seaman, 36-39—75; Lukas Freelove, SC, 37-38—75; Jack Seiler, Aquinas, 38-37—75; John Baker, KMC, 37-38—75; 18—Cooper Steiner, KMC, 37-39; Reece Emert, Seaman, 37-39—76; Chase Oberg, Andover, 38-38—76; Caden Cox, Maize, 36-40—76; Jackson Rohr, Arkansas City, 38-38