Buffaloes place fourth at Newton

GCHS Athletics

NEWTON - By driving about four hours east early Thursday, the Garden City Buffaloes boys’ golf team avoided the chilly and windy weather of western Kansas.

Their opening tournament of the 2021 high school season began at 1 p.m. at Sand Creek Station Golf Course in Newton and the temperature rose to what felt like a balmy 55 degrees with wind about 10-12 mph. Meanwhile, in Garden City, those numbers read 40 degrees and 15-20 mph wind.

The Buffs placed fourth as a team in the field of 16 teams and 88 golfers competed on one of the tougher golf layouts in Kansas. Coach Trent Specht’s squad shot a team score of 322 (4 counting scores of 5 golfers) and placed behind Maize South’s 316, which garnered the top spot with a tiebreak of a lower fifth score with Wichita-Bishop Carroll, also at 316.

Western Athletic Conference opponent Great Bend took third at 320 and poses a big threat to the Buffs’ hopes of capturing the league title this spring. That competition will get under way on Monday with the first of five WAC tourneys over the next month. They head to Hays for the first WAC tourney to be played at Smoky Hill Country Club.

Juniors Jack Koksal and Theo Juhl had the day’s lowest scores for the Buffs, shooting 7-over-par 79s while Cayden Cundiff and Keith Burr had matching 82s to round out the counting scores. Mason Vigil had a non-counting 85 as the teams were limited to five players as opposed to the normal six.

“There’s a lot of positives to take away from the day,” Specht said in a telephone interview afterward. “We gave some strokes away, especially with putting, and I think the boys now understand the difference of what that means. It’s the difference between fourth and possibly first.”

Hutchinson’s Ty Adkins shot a 1-under-par 71 to grab medalist honors. Second went to Maize South’s Kyle Kasitz at 73. Trent Sutherland of Arkansas City was next at 74 and Noah Holtzman was fourth at 75. Cole Streck of Great Bend and Davan Smith of Dodge City tied for fifth at 76.

“Great Bend’s a solid team and Streck is a good player and they’ve got three other guys around him who aren’t too bad,” Specht said when assessing the WAC schools. “Hays is pretty good, too, so it should be a competitive league race this year.”

Specht that at least two of the players struggled in the early portion of their rounds before settling down and finishing strong.

“Cayden (Cundiff) was 10 over par for his first 10 holes, but played the last 8 even par,” Specht said. “Keith (Burr) was 5-over after 3 holes and then was only 5 over for his final 15 holes.”

Specht said the putting greens at Sand Creek were much bigger and the speed was faster than the team had seen in preseason practices, making the adjustment more difficult.

“We will spend as much time as possible working on the short game and putting between now and Monday,” Specht said.

The busy spring schedule heats up for them, too, as they will then be in Dodge City next Thursday for the Red Demon Invitational at Mariah Hills Golf Course. The Buffalo Invitational will be May 8 and will be a 36-hole, one-day tournament on Saturday where both Buffalo Dunes and The Golf Club at Southwind will be played.

Team Scores

1. Maize South, 316; 2. Wichita-Bishop Carroll, 316; 3. Great Bend, 320; 4. Garden City, 322; 5. Hays, 334; 6. Hutchinson, 337; 7. Salina Central, 348; 8. McPherson, 349; 9. Arkansas City, 356; 10. Valley Center, 356; 11. Winfield, 371; 12. Derby, 373; 13. Maize High, 392; 14. Newton, 408; 15. Liberal, 418; 16. Salina South, 446.

Garden City Scores (Par 72)

10T. Jack Koksal and Theo Juhl, 79; T19. Cayden Cundiff and Keith Burr, 82; T27. Mason Vigil, 85.