CHENEY — It was a learning experience for Larned High School’s golf team at the Class 4A state golf tournament.
Junior Michael Reece led the Indians with a six-over-par 78 that missed a tie for top 20 medalists by one stroke. Larned finished 11th with a combined 335 in perfect weather conditions accompanied by light wind.
Reece played solidly from tee-to-green by hitting 13 of 18 greens in regulation. He made a tap-in birdie at the par-5 ninth hole and converted a 40-foot birdie at No. 13. His only major mistake was a shot into a water hazard at No. 2 that led to his lone double bogey of his round.
“From tee-to-green, I played really good, hitting 13 greens in regulation,” Reece said. “I hit a lot of good shots from tee-to-green.”
But he was unable to navigate the sloping and fast-paced greens at Cheney’s Cherry Oaks Golf Course. Reece had a pair of three putts and missed some makeable birdie putts.
“We’re not used to playing greens this big with this type of slope,” Reece said. “I lipped out a couple of putts, but I ended up missing the comeback putts a couple of times.”
Reece said he was also challenged by Cherry Oaks’ thick rough when he missed his five greens. He got up-and-down for par one time, far below his average percentage.
“I’m usually better on up-and-downs than that, and that’s one of my strengths,” Reece said. “But I had a hard time chipping around the greens. I don’t see that type of rough at Larned.”
Others who counted for Larned were three-time state medalist Tague Conrad (83), Matt Reason (84) and Nick Harknes (90). Also competing were Jake Zimmerman (91) and Duskin Bowman (100).
Larned head coach Mike Seeman had higher hopes for his team, which shot 324 at a regional tournament. He saw his team struggle with Cherry Oaks’ fast-paced greens and thick rough next to the greens.
“I’m disappointed we did not shoot better,” Seeman said. “Most of it was we are not used to playing this tough of a course on fast, sloping greens. We had some three putts and even some four putts. Our short games really hurt us today.”
Seeman said the Indians worked hard in their pre-tournament practice on technique to work the ball from around the greens.
“But that’s tough to do when you don’t see this type of course every day,” Seeman said. “It took a good short game to score today. It was a perfect day to play golf, but Cherry Oaks is a good test.”
Seeman said Conrad played a solid front nine with a 3-over-par 39. But once Conrad lost momentum, he was never able to regain his game after earning three state medals.
Wichita Collegiate captured its 17th state golf championship, its first in Class 4A with a team score of 299, six shots ahead of runner-up Kansas City Piper. Iola’s Kaden Macha captured the first state championship in school history with a par on the first playoff hole in a three-way playoff.
HIGH SCHOOL GOLF
Class 4A State Championship
Cherry Oaks Golf Course
1. Wichita Collegiate 299; 2. Kansas City Piper 305; 3. Topeka Hayden 316; 4. Buhler 316; 5. Paola 320; 6. Independence 325; 7. Hesston 325; 8. Andale 331; 9. Bonner Springs 332; 10. Altamont-Labette County 332; 11. Larned 335 (24. Michael Reece 78; 49. Tague Conrad 83; 55. Matt Reason 84; 83. Nick Harknes 90; 88. Jake Zimmerman 91; 101. Duskin Bowman 101); 12. Iola 335.
1. Kaden Macha, Iola, 72; 2. Camron Chugg, Collegiate, 72; 3. Montana Fasching, Piper, 72; 4. Charlie Rinehart, Piper, 73; 5. Gage Ihrig, Goodland, 74; 6. Dominic Lara, Circle, 74; 7. Drew Sandburg, Tonganoxie, 74; 8. Ethan Holaday, Holton, 74; 9. Laike Walters, Paola, 74; 10. Steven Amrein, Topeka Hayden, 75.