Second place isn't what the Osborne Bulldogs were shooting for Wednesday at the twice-delayed Class 1A state golf tournament, but that is where coach Jamie Wolters' team ended up.
The Bulldogs had the most balanced scoring of any of the 12 teams playing at the soggy Salina Municipal course, but the Frankfort Wildcats used a pair of scores in the 70s to capture the school's first-ever state golf championship.
The Wildcats, fueled by a 77 from Aiden Gerstner and 79 from Branden Bussmann, won the team title with a score of 336 — four strokes in front of Osborne and nine ahead of third-place Wichita Classic School, which won its first-ever state trophy of any kind.
Eli Bullinger of South Gray High School, wrapped up his prep career in style by winning medalist honors with a 5-over 75 — one shot ahead of Central Plains senior Alex Hickel. Ten players finished within four shots of each other, including Stockton's Brady Beougher, who took third overall after a playoff and concluded his high school career with four straight Top 4 finishes.
Osborne won the state title in 2017 and finished third last year. The Bulldogs had six players shoot between 78 and 91, but fell just short of their goal.
"That's the way golf is, every week is different," Wolters said. "I don't know, we probably had a couple kids that didn't play as well as they had been. That's part of golf, and they (Frankfort) had a couple that probably played better than they had for the year. That was the difference."
The tournament got started Monday morning with a shotgun start, but most players got in just five or six holes before a lightning delay cleared the course. The rain came, and never stopped, forcing Monday and Tuesday postponements before sunny skies greeted the golfers on Wednesday.
Osborne's team spent Monday night in Salina before heading home on Tuesday. The team drove back to the course Wednesday for the 10 a.m. start.
"We knew we had a shot. But all it takes is one guy to have a little bit of an off day — not really an off day, but just not playing quite as well," Wolters said. "One of our kids said he missed three putts two feet long, but those kinds of things happen. That's part of it."
Lathe Watkins, a sophomore, led the Bulldogs with a 78 and a seventh-place finish, while junior Steele Wolters and freshman Dayton Lantz earned medals with an 85 and 87, respectively.
"The nice part is, we have one senior, who has been a good leader and a solid player, but we should have a decent team coming back again," coach Wolters said.
Frankfort could be back as well. The Wildcats' top two scores came from Gerstner (77), a sophomore, and Bussmann (79), a junior. They finished a distant second to Atwood in the 2018 tournament, but put it all together a year later.
"We were second last year and third in '09, so yeah, this is an exciting time," Frankfort coach Brian Ebert said. "The kids played well. I thought if we played well, we had a chance. We had two kids shoot in the 70s and that really pulled our score down.
"Then we had two seniors pull through with an 88 and 92, so you never know as the day goes on if that's going to be enough or not. Obviously they did a good job and I'm very proud of them."
Ebert took his team back home to Frankfort after Monday's postponement. The Wildcats were in fifth place in the team standings when play was suspended.
"I knew we had to play better and they did," he said.
Bullinger was even-par through five holes when play was suspended on Monday. He finished with 37 on the front nine, one shot behind Hickel, and was two back after 11 holes. He then sank a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 12 to close within one and took the lead for good when Hickel posted back-to-back double bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14.
Bullinger's lead was down to one shot heading into the final hole, but a par 5 gave him medalist honors.
"I knew going into the last hole, I was up one on Hickel and two on Aiden from Frankfort. It was pretty nerve-wracking for all of us. We knew we were all neck-and-neck," said Bullinger, who qualified for the state tournament four straight years and finished third last year.
"It feels pretty sweet to win regionals and then come here and win state. After five holes, I was even and leading it, but then things got a little rough and I started getting a little nervous. But I fought through it and finished pretty solid."
Bullinger plans to attend Kansas State in the fall and possibly join the Wildcat golf team as a walk-on.
Beougher was looking for a second straight medalist title, but the Stockton senior was done in on the par-4 sixth hole, which was his eighth hole of the tournament. He posted a triple-bogey and was playing catch-up the rest of the round.
Beougher finished third after winning a playoff with Gerstner and Cole Buckingham of Wichita Classical School. He placed third, fourth, first and third at the 1A state tournament in four years.
Kate Tillma of Wichita Classical, the lone female in the field, did herself and her team proud with a sixth-place finish. Tillma, a freshman, shot a 78.