Lawrence High junior golfer Ryan Morgan might have lost the battle, but the Lions won the war.
Morgan was edged by Free State sophomore Charlie Santaularia -- the defending league champion -- by one stroke for the Sunflower League individual title Monday at Lawrence Country Club. But the Lions won their second team championship in three years.
"I'd almost rather win a team title," said Morgan, who fired a 4-over-par 76 under windy conditions Monday. "It would be nice to win the individual title too. But it's a lot of fun to win a team title."
Lawrence High, which won the league meet two years ago at Alvamar, defeated defending champion Shawnee Mission South by 10 strokes. Free State improved on an eighth-place finish last year to take third place Monday.
In addition to Morgan's second-place showing, Lawrence High also received a fifth-place finish from sophomore Mark Frederick (80), sixth place from senior Mike Samp (81) and eighth place from senior Ty Gittins (82).
Free State's only other medalist was sophomore Brent Patterson, who finished 10th win an 83.
"We knew coming in that if everybody played pretty consistent we had a little bit of an advantage since we practice out here one day a week," LHS coach Ron Commons said. "Everybody played pretty consistent all year long. It was a pleasant surprise when Mark Frederick comes in and shoots an 80. Ty was consistent again, and so was Mike and Ryan, so it was a team effort."
The LCC course wasn't kind to golfers Monday. Only Santaularia and Morgan carded sub-80 rounds.
Morgan didn't mind losing to Santaularia. Much.
"Actually, if I had to lose, I expected it to be him," Morgan said. "Both being from Lawrence, if there's somebody who's going to beat me, I expected it would be him."
Both golfers were tied heading into hole No. 18, and both hit their tee shots to about 100 feet away from the green. Santaularia's second shot fell short and Morgan's was just off the back of the green.
Santaularia then pitched within four feet of the pin and Morgan within five. After Morgan's birdie putt slid just past the hole, Santaularia drained his putt for the victory.
"Great, it feels great," Santaularia said. "This time, I knew what I had to do. Last time I didn't, so it was little harder this time, actually."
Last year the Free State golfer buried a two-foot birdie putt to win league without knowing it was for the crown. This time around, however, Santaularia and Morgan battled all day.
Morgan actually held a two-stroke lead heading into hole No. 15, but the Lion missed a 15-foot bogey putt and Santaularia capitalized by sinking his 12-foot par putt to forge a tie.
Santaularia kept the pressure on by hitting a winding putt from 10 feet away on No. 16 to save par.
"That got me started again," he said. "But I made a lot of short putts and missed a couple. Ryan " I thought he was going to make that one on the last hole the way he was putting."
Instead, Santaularia came through to take the title, pumping his fist once after a hard day's work.
"Charlie played a super round on a course that was really, really tough," FSHS coach Jack Schreiner said. "And Ryan did too. Both those two kids, you've really got to congratulate them. Those are great rounds on a course that really, really played hard."
-- Robert Sinclair's phone message number is 832-7185. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.