When Josh Pederson moved with his family from New Jersey after his father accepted the offensive coordinator job with the Chiefs, he was just hoping to find the right fit on a new high school golf team.
Now, nearing the end of his first season with Blue Valley North, it appears that he has done just that.
Pederson led the Mustangs to a top finish at their Kansas Class 6A regional with a 75 on Monday at Deer Creek Golf Club, which earned them a third straight trip to the state tournament. The other two qualifying teams from the regional were Shawnee Mission East and Blue Valley West.
“I kept the ball on the fairway, which is what you mainly have to do on this course, especially with how windy it was,” Pederson said. “I was proud of myself for doing that and making good shots onto the green.”
Pederson won by 1 stroke, while teammate Jake Goldman took second after a tiebreaker. Evan Shartzer added a 78 and finished in fourth place for Blue Valley North. The Mustangs beat the Lancers by 13 strokes.
“I am elated,” Mustangs coach Pat Cowan said. “In difficult conditions with great competition, the boys were able to hold it together and win a regional that quite honestly I wasn’t sure we would get out of, so it is good to see us play so well.”
Shawnee Mission East placed five of its six golfers in the top 10 with Brady Clark and Sunflower League champion Andy Spencer tying for the final spot. Johnnie Norton led the group with a 79, which earned him a fifth place finish. Worth Blackman and Lucas Jones each shot an 82, but Blackman edged Jones for seventh in a tiebreaker.
“Blue Valley North has a very talented team, and we knew we would have to play our best to try to compete with them,” Lancers coach Ermanno Ritschl said. “I think the course won, but we are very happy to be going to state.”
Blue Valley West’s Parker Roy helped the Jaguars capture third place as a team with his third-place finish following the tiebreaker with Goldman. He was joined in the top 10 by James Henderson who finished ninth.
The Jaguars, who are defending state champions, finished 19 strokes behind the Mustangs and five ahead of Blue Valley which missed the team qualification but will send five golfers to the state tournament as individual qualifiers.
“We’ve been in Blue Valley’s situation before, and it’s bittersweet taking kids, but not as a team,” Jaguars coach Kevin Bandy said. “We told them all week long that it doesn’t matter what you do, you just have to be a top-three team, so the kids are happy and so am I.”
Zach Karney led Blue Valley with an 80, which earned him a sixth place finish. Josh Krestine and Jack Beardslee tied for 13th with 85s, and Nick Beardslee and Jacob Bell shot 87s, which tied them for 18th. The final individual qualifier was Shawnee Mission South’s Tony DiSilvestro, who shot an 87.
The state tournament will be played next Tuesday at the Topeka Country Club.