Buffalo boys golf wins fifth title in five WAC events

GCHS Athletics
Garden City High School's Jack Koksal chips on the Buffalo Dunes No. 9 green Saturday during he GCHS boys golf invite.

GCHS claims league title in process

In football, the big score is the touchdown. In basketball, it’s the 3-point shot; in baseball, it’s a grand slam home run.

Those are all the biggest ways to recognize the top performances in those sports.

Golf has its own dictionary of terms and for the Garden City Buffaloes boys’ golf team, Tuesday’s performance at Willow Tree Golf Course allowed them to define the 2021 Western Athletic Conference championship as an “Ace.”

They aced each of the five league tournaments, capping off the perfect season Tuesday by shooting their lowest score of the year – 295 – just 7-over-par for the four counting scores. That was good for a four-shot victory over Great Bend’s 299.

In the WAC golf competition, each team hosts an invitational and the winner receives 5 points. Garden won all five to finish with 25 points while Great Bend was runner-up (4 points) in all five to place second with 20 points. Individually, junior Theo Juhl captured the top spot with 68 of a possible 75 points (winner receives 15 points). He was rewarded with the WAC Golfer of the Year Award.

The regular-season finale saw junior Aaron Allen make a major breakthrough, going under 80 for the first time while also finishing with a stellar 1-under-par 71 to place second in the event. Great Bend’s Cole Streck took medalist honors with a 3-under-par 69.

Juhl took fourth with an even-par 72, just behind Great Bend’s Brantley Baldwin’s 71. Other counting scores for the Buffs came from Cayden Cundiff with a 75 and one of the two 77 scores by Jack Koksal and Mason Vigil. Keith Burr rounded out the team scores with an 82.

“The kids just absolutely played great today,” Specht said Tuesday night after returning home. “It’s our lowest round of the year, and three of the kids had their personal bests. We’ve continued to improve each week of the season, and it’s nice to see some of the kids’ efforts pay off with good scores.”

Great Bend had been in the big chase with the Buffs throughout the season, first showing signs of being competitive when they beat the Buffs at the season-opening Sand Creek Station Invitational in Newton. But the Buffs have come up with the best score at Hays, Great Bend, Dodge City, Garden City and now Liberal.

This past Saturday (May 8), Garden’s boys won the 36-hole Buffalo Invitational over the Panthers with scores of 311-315—626 to Great Bend’s 316-319—635. The Panthers continued to put pressure on the Buffs but they responded each league tournament.

“The biggest thing, I think, is getting more mature when it comes to letting shots or bad holes go,” Specht said of why the team scores have been lowering each week. “They’ve missed a year and that little grind is good seeing them do that. They’ve learned how to take a bad hole, let it go and move on.”

A lot of practice time this spring has been on the short game of pitching, chipping and putting, and that work has paid off for the Buffs.

“Over time we’ve gotten so much better,” Specht said. “We’ve sharpened up our short game and that’s gotten better as the season has gone on.”

The Buffs will now await the Class 6A regional tournament on Monday, May 17, which they will host at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course. Play begins with tee times at 9 a.m., with players teeing off both Nos. 1 and 10 tees.

“We’re excited to be playing at home and look for a good day in which we can qualify for state,” Specht said.

The regional will have eight competing teams. The top three teams earn berths into the state event with another five scores individually that otherwise did not play on a qualifying team. The state meet will be played May 24-25 at Quail Ridge Golf Course in Winfield. The teams entered here in addition to the Buffaloes, include Wichita North, Wichita Northwest, Wichita South, Dodge City, Hutchinson, Liberal and Haysville-Campus.

Willow Tree Golf Course/Par 72/6359 Yards

Team Scores

1. Garden City, 295; 2. Great Bend, 299; 3. Hays, 327; 4. Dodge City, 365; 5. Liberal, 408.

Individual WAC Top 5

1. Cole Streck, Great Bend, 69; 2. Aaron Allen, Garden City, 71; 3. Brantley Baldwin, Great Bend, 71; 4. Theo Juhl, Garden City, 72; 5. Davan Smith, Dodge City, 72.

Garden City Scores

Aaron Allen, 71; Theo Juhl 72; Cayden Cundiff, 75; Jack Koksal, 77; Mason Vigil, 77; Keith Burr, 82.