By BRETT MARSHALL
It just seems as though Buffalo Dunes Golf Course has a way of getting more than even with the golfers who compete in high school tournaments.
Friday was no exception at the Hi-Plains League Tournament, where cool and calm weather greeted the golfers early but then turned into chilly, windy conditions.
Scores soared as expected along with the challenging deep native grasses and thick rough aligning the fairways.
The team that managed to survive the best was Lakin as they shot a 348 to edge Stanton County, which finished three shots back at 351 on the difficult Dunes layout.
It was a logjam in the team chase as only nine shots separated the first and fifth place teams.
Individually, it was Cimarron junior Mitch Chalkley, who managed to tour the Dunes in 7-over-par 79 and was the lone player to break 80. Stanton County's Broc Ellis was just one shot back at 80 to finish second.
For Chalkley, it was his fourth tournament title in a season where his goal was to simply win once.
"It's just been a really good, consistent year for me," a happy Chalkley said afterward. "It's tough to play here anytime, but the wind changed and it got cooler when we reached the 12th and 13th holes."
It was there that Chalkley found himself only 2-over-par for the day, but the cold north wind made the normally short 13th, 14th and 15th holes play brutally long, he said.
"It just changed the way the course played entirely," Chalkley said. "I just tried to swing easy and tried not to pull the ball into the deep stuff. The wind got me on 13 when I two-putted for double bogey."
Chalkley said his putting had been the staple of his game during his junior campaign.
"I don't hit it very deep (long), so I've had to do something and committed to improving that part of my game. My putting has been phenomenal (27 for the day). I'm totally 100 percent confident in my short game now."
For Lakin coach Travis McAtee, the win was a sweet one as his group of seniors had never tasted victory in the HPL tournament.
"It's a great confidence builder for us," McAtee said. "We had struggled most of the year until we won at Elkhart (earlier in the week). I told them on the way home from Elkhart that the win there was only good if we carried it over to today and they did just that. I'm very proud of this group. They've hung tough."
McAtee said even though his team and the other HPL teams are familiar with the Dunes, it still remains a monumental challenge in difficult weather conditions.
"Anytime you play a difficult course like this, and we've seen it before, scores go up," McAtee said. "Coming over here this morning I thought a winning score might be in the upper 330s but when the weather changed, I said that if we finished under 350, I'd take my chances. It worked out just that way."
The Broncs won it despite not having a golfer in the top five. Michael Leach and Christian Blackburn's 85s shared eighth place, while Wyatt Burnett was right behind with an 86 and Kyle Anderson had a 92.
Stanton County had Broc Ellis' 80, while Brad Ellis followed at 84, Adrian Gum a 91 and Seth Holliday a 96.
Trojans' coach Marty Cook was less than thrilled with his team's effort.
"We'll have to regroup for Monday (2A regional at Syracuse)," Cook said. "I know the kids are disappointed, I know I'm disappointed. We'll just try to use this as a motivation for the regional tournament."
Syracuse hosts the Class 2A regional on Monday while Lakin plays host to the 3A regional. Ulysses and Hugoton head to Larned for the Class 4A regional; South Gray hosts the 1A regional at Cimarron Golf Club while Garden City travels to Hutchinson to play at Carey Park Golf Course.
Teams that qualify through regional advance to their respective state tournaments on May 21. Garden City hosts the Class 6A state meet at Buffalo Dunes.
See results in Scoreboard, Page D2.