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Caroline Klemp leads St. James Academy to runner-up finish in Kansas 5A golf

Kansas Class 5A individual champion Caroline Klemp (center) of St. James Academy got a sandwich hug from her mother, Joni Klemp (left), and sister Audrey Klemp following a playoff with Emma Whitaker of Kapaun Mt. Carmel.
Kansas Class 5A individual champion Caroline Klemp (center) of St. James Academy got a sandwich hug from her mother, Joni Klemp (left), and sister Audrey Klemp following a playoff with Emma Whitaker of Kapaun Mt. Carmel. kmyers@kcstar.com

By the time St. James Academy’s Caroline Klemp was ready for her first-place playoff, the setting sun added an element of mystery to her final hole.

Kapaun Mt. Carmel’s Emma Whitaker took the first shot, after the two tied with a 78 in regulation, and Klemp teed off with only a vague idea of where her competitor’s ball had landed.

She elected to play conservatively from there, and the strategy worked as she captured the Kansas Class 5A individual championship with one playoff hole at Dub’s Dread Golf Club in Kansas City.

It was the best score and best finish for Klemp, who was 24th in 2013 with a 95 and sixth last year with an 80. Dub’s Dread is her home course with the Thunder, who practice there once a week.

“I was assuming it was good so I was just trying to play for par,” Klemp said. “I knocked my first shot down, knocked my second down and was trying to get a par to keep things going, not go low, but minimize error.”

The two started the day together, teeing off in the same group at the No. 1 hole, and finished it the same way. Both shot a 41 on the front and 37 on the back nine with a par 72.

Klemp’s individual title helped the Thunder to a second-place finish for the second consecutive season. She pointed out the team’s progress in that time showed by its ability to cut Kapaun’s victory from 24 to four strokes this time around. The Crusaders shot a 368, and the Thunder had a 372 to hold off St. Thomas Aquinas, which finished third at 378.

“We have had a really good season,” first-year Thunder coach George McDonnell said. “We have won a lot of tournaments, placed in almost every tournament and I am thrilled to death for Caroline. She is a hard worker and amazing player. Emma is too, but I am excited to see Caroline come out on top.”

Until Klemp and Whitaker’s scores came in, St. Thomas Aquinas’ Tatum King led the pack with an 80. She teed off an hour and 20 minutes before Klemp and Whitaker took the course and shot 40 on both sides.

Carly Bruemmer was Aquinas’ next finisher, shooting a 97 to tie for 19th. Sam Hilderhof finished one shot behind with a 98, and Emily Hilderhof was the final scorer with a 103.

Mill Valley’s Meg Green and Bella Haden were the only two other metro-area medalists, finishing fourth and 12th for the Jaguars.

Class 4A

Spring Hill’s Erika Ingold led local qualifiers in the Kansas Class 4A state golf tournament with a seventh-place finish at Smoky Hill Country Club. The Broncos placed fourth and Winfield won the team title. Coffeyville’s Anna Pool won the individual title with a 77.

Ingold capped a successful season that included a third-place finish at the Village Greens regional, where the Broncos took second. Piper, which finished behind Spring Hill at the regional, took third at state in 450 strokes.

Kathleen Gier: 816-234-4875, @kgier

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