If you only saw the 10th hole Monday at Meadowbrook Country Club in Prairie Village, it would be easy to surmise Blue Valley West senior Josh Barker was having a terrible day in his first and only appearance at the Kansas Class 6A state tournament.
“I hit a tree on the left on my drive and a tree on the right on my second shot,” Barker said when asked to relive the nightmarish start to his back nine. “The next one went long OB (out of bounds), like over the green. After that, I went back and hit another tree, so I got on the green in six, almost made a long-breaker putt with my seventh and then missed a five-footer coming back.”
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Other than that quadruple bogey, Barker put together an impressive round, finishing third with a 1-over par 72 and helping the Jaguars snag the team championship.
“On the range, I felt really good, and I always love courses like this where the premium is on driving accuracy and wedge play as well as putting, of course,” Barker said. “Of course, I didn’t think I’d play this great. It kind of came out of nowhere.”
Barker made two birdies and a bogey on the front nine for a 1-under 34 going out. He sat at 3-over thanks to the disastrous 10th hole, but rebounded in spectacular fashion.
“The very next hole (No. 11), I told myself I was going to rip the heck of the drive, but I wound up hitting the tree that’s in the middle there,” Barker said. “When I was walking up there, I told myself, ‘Josh, you need to stop, calm down and hit a good shot right here.’ I hit it on the green and two-putted (for par), but it really turned around on 12.”
That’s where Barker chipped in from the fringe for a birdie.
“From there, I felt good, like nothing could stop me,” said Barker, who also birdied Nos. 14 and 15.
Meanwhile, BV West sophomore James Henderson finished fifth after a three-way playoff with BV North senior Alex Higgs, who wound up fourth, and SM East senior Connor Knabe, who was sixth.
“I came in here with a goal of finishing in the top five, so I’m glad I could play my best,” Henderson said.
That same sentiment was true for the Jaguars as a whole.
“We came out here and played our best,” Henderson said. “It just all worked out. We weren’t expected to win, so we didn’t have much pressure. We’ve been around 300 all year, so we had an average day. Nobody else stepped up to take it.”
Senior Kyle Fecteau, who missed most of the season with a broken thumb, clinched the win for all intents and purposes when his par at No. 18 wrapped a 77, which tied him for 11th.
“At the turn, I knew we were leading as a team and we wanted to keep that momentum,” said Fecteau, who teed off on No. 10 and shot 42 on the back nine before rallying with a front-nine 35. “I turned my round around personally.”
SM East settles for second
Of course, the counterbalance to BV West’s thrills was runner-up SM East’s disappointment. The Lancers (306) finished six shots behind the Jags (300).
Entering state with an eight-tourney title streak, SM East, which played host to the state meet on the course it calls home, hadn’t been beaten by any team from Kansas in any tournament this season.
“We still set a school record for wins in a year, which is awesome, but obviously it’s tough to lose your last tournament,” said Hanna, who finished eighth after winning a three-way playoff at 76.
However, Hanna said he wouldn’t trade the Lancers’ eight-tourney win streak entering state for the 6A crown.
“I think (it’s fair to) say we were the best team all season, but definitely not today,” Hanna said. “Hats off to Blue Valley West. There might have been some pressure playing at our home course, but at the end of the day we just didn’t play well. We were the heavy favorite and we had a great opportunity today, but we just didn’t capitalize.”
Higgs caps career with fourth-place finish
Finally, the state served as the final hurrah for BV North senior Alex Higgs, who won a three-way playoff for fourth after shooting 73.
“I thought about it a little on the 18th hole as I was about to tee off that it was my last hole,” Higgs said. “It felt kind of weird, but I’m just glad I didn’t make a bogey on the last hole.”
Higgs will join his brother, Harry, at Southern Methodist next season, but his days as a Mustang are done.
“I had a great career, but it hasn’t really hit me yet that my career is over,” Higgs said.
St. James second in 5A
At the Kanas Class 5A boys golf state tournament Monday at Brookridge Golf and Fitness Club in Overland Park, Wichita Kapaun won its 29th state title and second straight with a team score of 303. But St. James Academy finished second at 309.
This is the first year St. James has competed in 5A.
“I’m extremely excited about how the boys played,” Muehlberger said. “This is our best score of the season. The back nine was very good for us.”
The difference between the teams may have been Kapaun junior Sam Stevens. He shot a 4-under 67, winning medalist honors. He was also the medalist in 2012.
It was the play of two sophomores and a senior that propelled St. James to its high finish.
Both sophomore Jack Reilly and senior Ben Markus shot a 1-under 35 on the back nine that got the Thunder back into contention for the first-place trophy.
Reilly had a round of 74, losing in a playoff with Wichita Kapaun sophomore Jared Burns for third place.
Lichtenauer, Tripp pick Missouri Western
For Mill Valley seniors Stephanie Lichtenauer and Tanner Tripp, leading the Jaguars’ girls basketball program to new heights apparently wasn’t enough time together.
Both players signed May 10 with Missouri Western and will remain teammates in college.
Lichtenauer averaged 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds, while Tripp scored 13.9 points per game and was the best defender for Mill Valley, which finished second at the Kansas Class 5A state tournament.