It’s not hard to pick a favorite for the Kansas Class 6A boys golf state tournament, which is set for Monday at Meadowbrook Country Club in Prairie Village.
Shawnee Mission East has won eight consecutive tournaments and calls Meadowbrook home, so the Lancers will be expected to take the title for the third time in the last four seasons and fourth time since 2008.
“It’s our home course, so we should be relaxed,” SM East coach Ermanno Ritschl said. “We know the course very well, but the target is on our back there’s no question. We’ve had the target the whole season, so we’ll draw on that and I think we’ll do OK there.”
Still, that’s not to say the Lancers won’t be pressed by several other strong teams.
Reigning 6A champion Blue Valley North, which finished only four strokes behind SM East — 309-313 — during Monday’s regional at Tomahawk Hills Golf Course, won’t give up the crown without a fight.
“A couple of (SM East’s) kids are members at Meadowbrook, but some people think it’s harder to play on your home course,” Mustangs senior Alex Higgs said. “There’s more pressure there, but who knows? It can be different when you’re actually playing in a tournament.”
Higgs said BV North is happy to let Lancers bask in the limelight as the Mustangs “fly under the radar.”
Washburn Rural and Dodge City also have strong players and could threaten for the team gold medal.
Still, led by Kansas-bound senior Chase Hanna, who has won five of nine tournaments this season and finished second at three others, there’s no doubt SM East is the team to beat.
Hanna and fellow Lancers senior, Kansas State-bound Connor Knabe, are two of the players to watch.
“Everybody who knows about golf realize anything can happen with a one-day state,” Hanna said. “It’s awesome that it’s at Meadowbrook, but at the end of the day it’s still only one round of golf. Any real tournament in the summer is three or four days, but I think I’ve got as good a chance as any to win it. If I keep playing the way I’ve been playing, I should have a good shot.”
But if Hanna has to pick one title to win, he’s hoping the Lancers strike gold together.
“Definitely, the team title is the more important thing,” Hanna said. “We all talk about how awesome it would be to go undefeated against Kansas teams, especially all of us seniors in our last year.”
During Class 5A regional competition Monday at Heritage Park Golf Course, individual winner Jack Reilly (78), third-place finisher Ben Maskus (79) and fifth-place Cole Stetzer (81) powered St. James Academy to a regional title.
Led by fourth-place Seth Haupt (80), BV Southwest and St. Thomas Aquinas, whose top finisher was runner-up Paul Angles (78) also qualified for state as teams.
Finally, during Class 2A regional play at Woodland Hills Golf Course, Kansas City Christian advanced to state as a team by winning the regional champion.
Led by individual medalist Christian Bickley, who shot 77 and won by seven strokes, the Panthers totaled 355 shots and won by 74 strokes as a team.
BVW poised as favorite in 6A baseball
Pitching-rich Blue Valley West allowed only one run in two games en route to a third straight berth in the Class 6A state tournament.
Senior left-hander Derek Hurt, who has yet to allow an earned run in 40 innings this season, went the distance in a 8-0 shutout against SM North during the regional semifinals Wednesday at BV West.
Jaguars ace Zach Engelken followed up with a 15-strikeout performance in a 5-1 win against BV Northwest for the regional crown.
The runner-up Huskies made it to the final with a 3-2 win against 2012 state champion BV North.
Blue Valley also earned a 6A state berth during a marathon regional hosted by SM West at Johnson County 32 on Wednesday.
The Tigers, 13-7, outlasted SM Northwest 14-13 in an eight-inning slugfest then fended off a furious rally by Olathe East in the regional final for a 7-5 win.
Blue Valley led 7-0 before the Hawks, who beat the host Vikings 6-4 in 10 innings during the semifinals, mounted a desperate rally that came up two runs short.
In Class 5A action, Mill Valley pounded two-time reigning 4A champion St. James Academy, which moved up a class this year, into submission 12-2 in its regional final, while BV Southwest reached state for the first time with a 10-2 win against St. Thomas Aquinas.
De Soto, which entered its 4A regional at Baldwin as the No. 3 seed, also reached state with an 8-6 semifinals win against Baldwin and an 11-4 victory in the regional final against perennial power Bishop Ward.
Huskies softball ends 10-year state drought
BV Northwest’s softball team reached state for the first time in a decade with a 4-0 win against SM East.
Sophomore Carly Shinderson tossed two shutouts — 7-0 against SM West in the regional semifinals and the win against the Lancers — to power the Huskies’ breakthrough.
On Tuesday, SM Northwest rode its ace, Katt Cooper, to state with a 7-2 semifinals win against Blue Valley and a 7-2 win in the regional championship against host Olathe South at the Olathe District Activity Center.
Finally, Mill Valley edged BV Southwest 2-1 for a spot 5A state berth during regional play Wednesday at Johnson County 32.