Up 10 strokes before most golfers could make the turn, Blue Valley North seemed to be cruising toward another state championship.
That was until Shawnee Mission East — and the rule book — snuck up on the Mustangs.
Steady play helped Shawnee Mission East trim that deficit during the final holes of the Kansas Class 6A boys state high school golf tournament Monday at Ironhorse Golf Club in Leawood. So did a ruling that added six strokes to BV North’s team total.
Final tally: Shawnee Mission East 306, BV North 307.
“That’s not the way you want to win it,” SM East golf coach Evan Scobie said.
BV North held off SM East by three strokes in last year’s state tournament, and the Mustangs looked as if they did it again as the final groups rolled in. But two of BV North’s players were accused of consulting each other about club selection during their rounds, which is a violation of the rules.
Each violation is a two-stroke penalty, and the Mustangs were ruled to have violated the guideline three times.
“Rules of golf are what they are,” BV North coach Mark Turrentine said. “We have people who said one thing and my guys who said another. If it happened, then the penalty was issued correctly.”
The controversy overshadowed a solid day by BV North, which had two of the top five scores turned in on a gorgeous late spring day. Davis Cooper shot a 2-under par 70 and battled for medalist honors until the final hole, and Ryan Bender turned in a 2-over 74 and finished fifth.
Davis’ day, like the rest of team, started out strong. An Eagle on the par-5 No. 4 and back-to-back-birdies on the sixth and seventh hole led to a 3-under 33 and a four-stroke lead at the turn.
Davis went to 4-under after birdie on No. 10 but bogeyed three of the next four holes. That opened the door for Parker Beal of Topeka Washburn Rural. Beal eagled No. 14 and finished birdie-birdie for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke victory.
“I knew after the front nine I was leading and I knew after the bogeys it would be close,” said Cooper, a sophomore. “I needed a birdie on the last but I couldn’t get it. It was still a good round.”
Cooper, who wasn’t one of the golfers implicated in the rules violation, said if his teammates were talking club selection, they weren’t the only ones.
“I know all the teams out here were talking clubs today,” Cooper said. “It seems a little weird they happened to bring it up after we were all done.”
Even without the ruling, SM East was steadily making its way back in the team standings. By the time the final pairings reached the last two holes, the Lancers had pulled back within two strokes.
“We finished before Blue Valley North and we knew if they struggled we had a chance,” said SM East’s Will Harding, who shot a 2-over 74 for the Lancers’ best round. “Luckily with this whole deal going on, I guess it was enough.”
Scobie said it was a team effort that helped the Lancers launch their comeback. SM East got sub-80 rounds from Owen Hill and Andrew Scholz, who both turned in 77s.
“We were slow out of the gate and Blue Valley North’s awfully good,” Scobie said. “When you give up that many strokes early coming back is awfully tough.”
But SM East did come back and delivered an especially tough loss in what has been a lively rivalry. Just last week BV North beat the Lancers by one stroke at their 6A regional.
Even under the circumstances, it’s still a friendly rivalry.
“They’ve been nothing but great to compete against,” Turrentine said. “If we weren’t going to win, I’m glad they won.”
St. Thomas Aquinas golfers went one-two atop the leaderboard en route to a team victory in the Class 5A tournament at Dubs Dred.
Freshman Michael Winslow took medalist honors and a state individual title with a 3-under 69, and senior teammate Andrew Cunningham was second with an even-par 72 after beating Emporia's Gentry Scheve in a playoff.
They were followed by Blue Valley Southwest sophomore Justin Wingerter (74) and Mill Valley freshman Nicklaus Mason (75), who beat Wichita-Kapaun Mount Carmel junior John Baker in a playoff.
Wichita-Kapaun Mount Carmel finished as the team runner-up with a combined score of 314 to Aquinas' 296. Then came Emporia (324), Olathe West (327) and Mill Valley (328).