High School Sports News

Shawnee Mission East boys golfers grab Kansas Class 6A state title

There are two trophies that golfers fight for throughout the boys spring season. The team title and the individual title.

As for the team title, a familiar name ended at the top in the Kansas Class 6A state championship: Shawnee Mission East. The Lancers won the title at Topeka Country Club on Tuesday with a total score of 300.

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Lancers coach Ermanno Ritschl did not have the same star power as in the past, but as a unit they were good enough to win.

“This team didn’t have the glory names of the last four years,” Ritschl said. “They worked hard and came together starting at regionals. I had a good feeling that we had a good practice round yesterday. They had a plan, and they executed that plan.”

It was SM East’s third boys team state title in the last five years.

Leading the Lancers was junior Lucas Jones whose even par 71, and third place overall finish, helped his team post the winning score.

Ritschl said that Jones usually shot around the mid- to high 70s, so it was a big plus for the team for him to shoot his score Tuesday.

The most consistent golfer for the Lancers this year was junior Andy Spencer who, turned in a 72, tied for fourth. After starting the tournament with a 40 on the front nine, Spencer came on strong with a 32 on the back nine.

“I started hitting more greens. I started getting some more confidence and started rolling the ball better,” Spencer said. “I was little amped up (at the beginning) because it’s state and one of the biggest tournaments of the year. I just needed to slow down a little bit.”

Sophomore Johnnie Norton (76) and senior John Sallaz (81) helped round out the counted scores for SM East. Brady Clark (85) and Worth Blackman (83) also competed for the Lancers.

Having a good team combination helped East get back to their winning ways.

“I think we all jelled,” Spencer said. “We’ve been thinking positive all week, and I think that ran into today.”

And with only one senior in this class, there’s a possibility the Lancers could be in the same place next year.

“This kind of experience will help us in the future years,” Ritschl said.

On the individual side of the field, Blue Valley West junior James Henderson shot a two-under 70 that forced a playoff with Maize’s Kayle Reynolds for top medalist.

“I was hitting the ball all right, but my putter was saving me,” Henderson said.

Henderson hit an impressive shot over the trees on the first playoff hole that landed 10 feet from the pin. He missed the birdie putt, forcing another hole.

But after missing his birdie putt on the next hole, Reynolds drained his birdie to take the top spot.

“It was nerve-racking, but I knew if I knew I put a good stroke on it. Make it, you’ll be done as soon as possible,” Reynolds said. “You just can’t let your nerves get the best of you.”

Henderson’s low score helped BV West finish with a 313 total, but the Jags were edged out of third place by Manhattan on the fifth-man score tiebreaker.

“Hopefully they can learn from it and get some more tournament play this summer,” Blue Valley West coach Kevin Bandy said.

The Jaguars’ other top golfer was junior Ian Addison with a score of 79.

Other players in the top 10 from the Kansas City area included sophomore Blake Allen from Shawnee Mission Northwest, who played with Henderson on Tuesday.

Allen’s score of 76 was good enough for a tie for sixth place.

Other medalist golfers that finished in the top 20 included Nick Kagy from Blue Valley North, juniors Zach Karney and Josh Krestine of Blue Valley and Gardner Edgerton freshman Trystan Tovkach All shot 78s.

Olathe East’s Zach Spencer (79) and Olathe Northwest’s Dillon Funk (79) also finished as medalists.

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