Lawrence High's Ryan Morgan and the Lions were tops among the individual golfers and teams while Free State and Charlie Santaularia secured second-place finishes Monday.
Topeka -- Usually, the story of the Class 6A regional boys golf tournament would be about second-place Free State High, which turned in the best team score in school history.
But Lawrence High was even better Monday at the Lake Shawnee Golf Course, spurring talk of city dominance.
"What does this say about the city of Lawrence's junior golf program?" FSHS coach Jack Schreiner said. "It's just incredible. I can't ask the kids for more than this."
It would be tough to expect more after Free State carded a 302. Four Firebirds shot in the 70s, including sophomore Charlie Santaularia's second-place 71. Fellow sophomore Brent Patterson finished fourth with a 75.
The Lions, however, one-upped the Firebirds with five golfers under 80, including junior Ryan Morgan's regional-best 3-under-par 67.
"I can't do much better than that," Morgan said. "We're playing unbelievably well as a team right now. We've won four of our last five tournaments. That will give us a lot of confidence for state."
Mike Samp (sixth) and Brett Buxton (ninth) also medaled for LHS, which won the tournament in 298 strokes.
The top ten individual finishers and the top three teams all qualified for the state championship next Monday at Heritage Park in Olathe. Both Lawrence schools, as well as third place Topeka Washburn Rural, will send their entire teams to state.
"I'm thrilled to death," LHS coach Ron Commons said. "It'll sure make this week of school a whole lot nicer."
Morgan and Santaularia played together in the tournament's final group, and none of the coaches sitting around the scoreboard expressed much surprise when the winning scores were posted.
"If you would have asked any of the coaches beforehand," Commons said, "he probably would have picked it this way, in this order."
Schreiner followed Morgan and Santaularia's group, which featured the golfers with the four best scores.
"Ryan Morgan was just phenomenal," the FSHS coach said. "It was fun to watch him play, and Charlie, too."
Especially so on No. 16, when Santaularia -- two strokes behind Morgan -- was about 200 yards out and put a shot within a few feet of the pin.
"Then Ryan comes up and puts one inside Charlie's," Schreiner said. "The way he answered that shot down the stretch like that, it was just unbelievable."
Morgan and Santaularia have become good friends since meeting on the golf course three years ago, and, naturally, a rivalry quickly developed.
"It's not a hostile rivalry, but in a fun way," Morgan said. "And it's not just in high school meets. We've played together a lot in summer and national tournaments."
Santaularia, who beat Morgan for the Sunflower League title earlier this month, has been limited by a wrist injury during the last few weeks.
"I'm happy with how I played, and I'm happy for Ryan," the Free State sophomore said. "He made every putt in sight."
Santaularia placed second at state in 1998, and is happy that he will be joined by all of his teammates this year.
"Finally, we all played well at the same time," he said. "Last year, it was just me and Brent (at state). But this year, it's all of us, so that will be a lot of fun."
Morgan saw no coincidence in the overwhelming success of the two Lawrence schools and the city's abundance of golf courses.
"I've played (in Lawrence) most of my life, and the availability of courses is incredible," he said. "And they're so nice, and so tough. A lot of the Lawrence kids are good golfers because they have to be when you play those courses."
- Results in Scoreboard