Govert, Loewen, Unruh find success at state golf meets
By KEVIN THOMPSON
At the Class 1A tournament at the Emporia Municipal Country Club, the two lone entries from the area did western Kansas proud.
AJ Govert of Greeley County fired a 75 to tie with Koby Beougher of Stockton, but lost the title in a two-hole sudden death playoff.
"He played really well the entire day," said Jackrabbit coach Eric Arnold.
Govert made the turn in 4-over-par 40 but came back with an even-par 35 on the closing nine holes to tie Beougher. He bogeyed the 18th that prevented him from winning the title outright.
"He made a couple of really nice birdie putts on the back nine to get his round going," Arnold said of Govert, whose finish is believed to be the highest in school history.
In the playoff, Govert nailed his drive, hit his second shot on the green and easily two-putted for a par. Beougher, though, drained a long putt to tie the hole and send it to the next hole. There, Govert had an errant drive which resulted in tree problems. He missed the green and couldn't save par from the right side. Beougher made par for the win.
Slade Loewen of Ingalls, the defending champion, shot a 77 to finish fourth.
Ingalls coach Dave Novack said four or five golfers were in the thick of things most of the day from start to finish, so the competition was tough for Loewen. One or two holes here or there, he said, could have made the difference for any number of golfers.
"If you ask him, he'd probably say he struggled a little bit. He wasn't really happy with his driver, he wasn't extremely happy with his irons, and he didn't putt very well," Novack said. "But he really scrambled well. He had a lot of up-and-downs with his wedge."
Course conditions in Emporia at the par-71 course were ideal, Novack said, with just a slight breeze and 80-degree temperatures.
"It wasn't the greatest round I could have played today," Loewen said. "I left a couple putts out there that could have been better than they were. But I'm happy with what I shot today."
Loewen shot an 80 last year to win, but this year the competition equalled the lower scoring. He played with Govert and Beougher, and said it was fun to play with guys at that level.
Being a defending champ actually factored into the round, he added. More golfers with good skills make it hard to win two in a year.
Loewen played with a new set of clubs this season and struggled early on with them, but he felt good with them at the state meet.
Loewen medalled all four years of high school (seventh place as a sophomore and 13th as a freshman), and is signed to play for Garden City Community College next year.
At the 3A meet in Seneca, Scott City's Justin Unruh was the low area golfer, firing a 38-39--77 to finish fourth, just three strokes out of first.
Beavers coach Brian Gentry said his senior had a pretty consistent round.
"He did a great job keeping his round in a spot where he could compete for one of those top spots," Gentry said.
Unruh played at state last year and finished the season strong in regionals, and Gentry said those were big confidence boosters. The senior played a solid all-around game, which he has managed the past two weeks once the weather finally cooperated.
"Having played at state before, he knew kind of what to expect and how to go about preparing for the day," Gentry said.
The Seneca meet was played under cloudy conditions with light sprinkles, and on Unruh's third hole, his group waited nearly an hour for slow groups in front to play. Unruh finally teed off, but he hit it out of bounds. Rather than react, he made up for it by parring the next few holes and finishing his front nine with a birdie.
"That really pulled his round together," Gentry said. "That's the experience he's gained over the years, and a little bit of maturity that comes with his age."
Fellow Beaver Marshall Hutchins shot an 86 to tie for 28th.
Cimarron had a trio of golfers represented, led by Mitch Chalkley's 12th place (81), one spot better than last year.
Stewart Fairbank and Charlie Pfeifer both shot 43-43--86 to finish tied for 28th.
"If you ask each one of them, they'd all tell you there were a few holes they'd like to do over," coach Lance Walker said. "But overall they played pretty good. They seemed pleased."
Chalkley, who headed to Sterling College following the tournament to enroll for next year, where he will be golfing, had a 42-39--81, but Walker said he went 5-over par on his last three holes, so his score could have been significantly better.
"He got out-of-bounds trouble, hit a tree. Things just kind of snowballed on him right at the end," he said. "But he's such a great kid with a positive attitude. I could tell he was down a little bit, but he stayed upbeat and handled it pretty well."
Lakin's Wyatt Burnett, who won the Hi-Plains League title, shot a 44-40--84 to finish tied for 21st. Teammate Brent Rooney tied for 45th with a 90.
Lakin coach Travis McAtee said the Spring Creek presented a challenge for his two golfers, both experiencing state for the first time.
"Wyatt started out slow and found it late in the first nine, finishing par-birdie-par," he said. "But he could never get on a roll. He struggled with some short game stuff on the back nine. He felt like he left at least seven shots out on the course."
State's always different for first-timers, McAtee acknowledged, but the experience is what teaches the players.
"They're already talking about what they need to do for next year," he said of his sophomore and junior qualifiers.
At the 4A state meet at the Cheney Golf Course, the area's only entry, Ulysses' Austin Cantrell, finished 42nd, firing an 81.
Wichita Collegiate won the team title with a 299, which included four golfers under 80.
In that tournament, 31 golfers finished under 80, including three golfers at 72.
It was a tough day for Garden City High School golfers at the Class 6A state tournament at Meadowbrook Country Club in Overland Park.
Junior Austin Swender shot an 86 on the par-71 layout which put him in a tie for 61st place. Tristain Corrales had a 101.
Blue Valley West won the team championship with a score of 300 while Dodge City placed fifth with a 316. Hutchinson and Maize were the other teams from the Garden City regional to compete, with Hutch placing 10th (341) and Maize 11th (347) in the 12-team field.
Andrew Beckler and John Wright of Topeka-Washburn Rural shot 71s for low rounds with Beckler winning the playoff. Zach Kirby shot a 74 for Dodge City's low round of the day.
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