Syracuse finishes in fourth at Fort Hays; Cimarron 10th in Cheney




It's the little things sometimes that become the big things in athletic competitions.

And nobody knows that better than the Syracuse Bulldogs boys golf team and their veteran coach Rick Mathias.

The difference between first place and fourth place was a mere five shots, and the difference between fourth and third was even tighter at just one stroke.

That's the disappointment for the Bulldogs and Mathias following Tuesday's Class 2A state tournament at Fort Hays Municipal Golf Course.

Despite getting two top 10 individual finishes from juniors Chase Keller and Cameron Coleman, the Bulldogs could manage no better than fourth in spite of a season-low total of 323.

Olpe captured the top spot with a 318, followed by Sterling at 320 and WaKeeney at 322. The Bulldogs and Ellinwood each were at 323, but Syracuse got the fourth-place spot by virtue of their fifth player (with a 90) shooting a lower score than Ellinwood's (97).

"It was a day where some things happened that shouldn't have, but then that's the game," Mathias said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. "I'm proud of the way the kids played. To get two in the top 10 is quite an accomplishment."

Keller shot a 5-over-par 76, while Coleman came in one shot back with a 77 to power the Bulldogs to their fourth-place position.

Had it not been for an inadvertent penalty by Keller when he mistakenly hit a wrong ball on the sixth hole, resulting in a two-shot penalty, the Bulldogs would have had third place.

"Well, that's one way of looking at it, but in essence, Chase played 17 holes 2-over-par, and I'm so proud of the way he handled things after the penalty," Mathias said. "He just got caught up in getting his yardage, and his ball was a few yards in front of the ball where he set his bag. When he came back he just forgot that his bag was by the wrong ball. He handled it so well and showed a great amount of poise."

Coleman, too, had his game in top form, playing the front in 2-over-par 38. But he bogeyed the 10th through 13th holes before parring in on the final five holes. Mathias got a solid 83 from his No. 4 player, Chandler Howell, but from there it was Tierney DeWitt's 87 that was the final counting score. Jake Phillips (90) and Ira Kullot (96) rounded out the team's scores.

"We've got most of the kids back for next year, so I'm excited for the experience they got, and feel like we've got a chance to do some special things next season," Mathias said. "After nine holes, there were only four strokes separating the top five teams, so I knew it was gonna be close."

Stanton County's Jeremy Amerin shot a 77 to share a top 20 medal, while his Trojan teammate, Gage Martin, shot an 87 and was in 42nd place. Wichita County's Spencer Thurman was in 34th place with an 84.

Class 3A

At Cherry Oaks Golf Course in Cheney, the Cimarron Bluejays posted a 369 total and finished 10th among the 12 teams entered in Class 3A. Wichita Collegiate won with a score of 302.

Coach Lance Walker said the team suffered a setback prior to the event when Blake Neuschafer suffered an arm injury and was unable to play, leaving the team with just five players.

The Bluejays' Charlie Pfeifer shot an 81 and tied for 15th with Holcomb's Brayden Showalter and others to earn a top 20 medal.

"Charlie had a good year, and considering we didn't have a full team, I thought the boys really went and competed," Walker said in a telephone interview."

Other Cimarron scores were Caleb Fischer (87), Jordan Beck (93), Wyatt Bell (108) and Hunter Dewey (123).

Lakin's Wyatt Burnett shot an 84 (40-44) and just missed out on a top 20 finish, and coach Travis McAtee said it was a tough day for his top player.

"He had a disappointing stretch on the back nine," McAtee said. "We had a burst of rain come down and they continued to play, and in that stretch, he went double bogey, double bogey, triple bogey. When the rain quit, he played the final four holes even par."

Class 4A

At Firekeeper Golf Course in Mayetta, Class 4A saw Austin Cantrell of Ulysses shoot an 86 to finish tied for 39th, while his Tiger teammate, Jake Epperson, was close behind with an 87, which tied him with Scott City's Marshal Hutchins and several other competitors for 46th place.

Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.

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