@thekcga 2014 Preseason Coaches’ Poll 1. Blue Valley West 2. Shawnee Mission East 3. St. James Academy 4. Blue Valley Southwest 5. Blue Valley North
2014 Kansas High School Boys’ Golf Preview
lue Valley West returned home from the 2013 Kansas State Championships with a team title and two top-ﬁve individual medalists, including now junior James Henderson, who shot a 73 and earned ﬁfth-place. Following Blue Valley West’s 6A title, Shawnee Mission East (second), Topeka-Washburn Rural (third), Blue Valley North (fourth), Olathe East (sixth), Lawrence Free State (eighth) and Lawrence (ninth) all claimed a team-spot in the top-ten. St. James Academy led the area 5A schools with a runner-up title. Blue Valley Southwest and St. Thomas Aquinas took fourth and ﬁfth, respectively. As always, the eyes will be on the ultimate prize of the state championships. The state events are slotted for May 27 at the following locations: SAND: Leonardville Golf Course, Riley, Kan. 1A: Southwind Country Club, Garden City, Kan. 2A: Fort Hays Municipal Golf Course, Hays, Kan. 3A: Cherry Oaks Golf Course, Cheney, Kan. 4A: Firekeeper Golf Course, Mayetta, Kan. 5A: Wichita Country Club, Wichita, Kan. 6A: Topeka Country Club, Topeka, Kan
Blue Valley North
Blue Valley Southwest
The Mustangs return four golfers from last year’s fourth place state team. Shartzer is the No. 1 golfer on a team facing stiff competition once again in the EKL. However, that has not stopped Blue Valley North from setting the team goals high, hoping to capture a league title, as well as, a state championship. Early on, the greatest challenge continues to come in the form of weather and opportunities to get on the course for improvements.
Jake Lassman, senior One of the things that comes to Winslow’s mind about the 2014 season is excitement. Following last year’s fourth place ﬁnish at the 5A state tournament, Winslow returns ﬁve golfers and hopes for improvement in all of their golf games. Heading into this season, Winslow and the Timberwolves set their eyes on a top-three ﬁnish at the state competition.
Blue Valley West
The Jaguars face a difﬁcult task coming off the school’s ﬁrst 6A State Championship. Blue Valley west graduated four seniors from last year’s team, leaving multiple open spots. However, junior James Henderson, the fourth place ﬁnisher in last year’s state competition, and senior Parker Roy return this year. The true challenge is ﬁnding three to four new golfers who can post the scores to defend the team’s reigning title.
Tucker Sutter, junior Lawrence returns three letter winners from last season, led by two-time letter winners Nariot Mendez and Tucker Sutter. However, lost are three of last year’s top ﬁve golfers. The key to the season is the development of the younger golfers. Wedd said the pending development will decide whether or not the team is able to make it to the state championships.
Head coach: Pat Cowan Top Golfer: Evan Shartzer, senior
Head coach: Kevin Bandy Top Golfer: James Henderson, junior
Head coach: Nate Winslow Top Golfer: Sam Dentinger, junior
Head coach: Dirk Wedd Top Golfer: Narito Mendez, junior
Christian Sheppard, junior Olathe East returns 12 golfers to the program from a year ago. Senior Zach Spencer and junior Christian Sheppard anchor the squad, while the remaining positions are wide open for a group of returning golfers. Lilley said the varsity team will be supported by great depth after the program was reﬁlled with new talent from the underclassmen.
The Eagles are led by junior Chris Oetken this year. Marks said there is a lot of teaching ahead with a program of 20 boys and 10 of those made up of freshmen or sophomores. This leads to the challenge of ﬁnding enough golfers ready to play at the varsity level with the few key players Marks has returning to the program. Combined with Marks’ coaching and Oetken’s leadership, the Eagles must compete early to gain the conﬁdence required during conference and districts.
Head coach: Kathy Lilley Top Golfer: Zach Spencer, senior
Head coach: Mike Marks Top Golfer: Chris Oetken, junior
St. James Academy
Morrow is ready to take on the rest of the competition ﬁeld this year with four of his top six golfers returning from last season. The group is highlighted by senior Jayce Steury, a four-year letter winner and one-time state qualiﬁer. Morrow hopes to combine the much needed experience of Steury with consistent team play to guide the squad to qualify for the state tournament.
St. James Academy brings back four golfers from last year’s 5A state-runner-up ﬁnish. The strength of the team rests on the shoulders of three juniors who have been a varsity presence since they were freshmen. Muehlberger adds a group of underclassmen to the mix, in what should be another strong season against some of the tough local and state level competition.
Head coach: Dan Morrow Top Golfer: Jayce Steury, senior
Head coach: John Muehlberger Top Golfer: Jack Reily, junior
St. Thomas Aquinas
The Saints seem to return an ample amount of experience from last season, including six letter winners. Best said the program also welcomes a group of talented freshmen that will bolster the squad. However, with numerous golfers still participating in winter sports, Best expects a few of his golfers to show signs of rust early on. The early season practices and opportunities hold a great value for the Saints this year.
Shawnee Heights enters the 2014 season with four experienced golfers anchoring the squad. However, Swift said the search continues for two more low scoring golfers. This is a priority in order to be competitive this season. The group’s goals early on are focused on taking advantage of their time on the practice course and managing the course once competition begins.
Head coach: Ryan Best Top Golfer: Austin Kruse, senior
Head coach: Jason Swift Top Golfer: Mitchell Lummis, junior
Shawnee Mission East
Shawnee Mission NW
Even though Shawnee Mission East returns eight varsity golfers, the team took a major hit with the graduation of two division-one golfers last year in Chase Hanna (Kansas) and Connor Knabe (Kansas State). However, the return of sophomore Andy Spencer and senior John Sallaz provides a major boost. The team is in a position to compete for both a league and state title with the number of players vying for varsity time.
The Cougars suffered key senior losses due to injury and early graduation, but the talent cupboard is far from bare. Mitchell Bolton, a junior who ﬁnished eleventh last year at state, returns to the squad, along with senior Colton Allen, an honorable mention all-league player a season ago. Allen’s younger brother Blake Allen, a sophomore that qualiﬁed for state during his freshman campaign, makes his return to the course with Northwest this season.
Brandon Cox, sophomore Nelson and senior Dylan Cox head a rebuilding project this season at Topeka. Cox, along with sophomore Brandon Cox headline the list of returning golfers to the program, but the remainder of the varsity lineup continues to be open for Nelson. The early portion of the season is set to determine the varsity lineup for the remainder of the year.
Mariani and junior Cooper Perry enter the season with two goals in mind: improve within the Centennial League and reach the state competition as a team. Topeka West returns ﬁve golfers from last year and need solid and consistent performances from the entire group to achieve the expectations in place. The weather and consistent play holds the keys to Southwest’s season early on.
Head coach: Ermmano Ritschl Top Golfer: Andy Spencer, soph.
Head coach: Ryan Nelson Top Golfer: Dylan Cox, senior
Head coach: Jim Bamburg Top Golfer: Mitchell Bolton, junior
Head coach: Richard Mariani Top Golfer: Cooper Perry, junior
Head coach: Jared Goehring Top Golfer: Andrew Beckler, junior
Washburn Rural sits in a comfortable spot entering the 2014 season. Five of the six varsity golfers from last season returns this year, including state-champion junior Andrew Beckler. The squad has high hopes and expectations this year, especially after the Kansas state championship was awarded to the team’s home town. However, Washburn Rural won’t think any differently than their usual underdog mentality, regardless of the home course advantage.