With five of the top six teams from last week's Sunflower League tournament in today's Class 6A regional at Eagle Bend Golf Course, there's little room for error for the city's two high schools in their bids for state berths.
Lawrence High, coming off its best performance of the season, and Free State are both in contention for the regional title. Leavenworth, Shawnee Mission East, Shawnee Mission North, Shawnee Mission Northwest, Shawnee Mission West and Topeka complete the regional field. The top three teams and top 10 medalists will advance to the state tournament next Monday at Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson.
"Someone is not going to get to go who is probably a pretty good golf team," FSHS golf coach Jack Schreiner said. "Any time you play a one-day tournament it's a crapshoot. It's whoever is hot."
LHS was hot last week. The Lions posted a season-best 300 score to win the 25-team Lawrence Invitational at Alvamar Public, which also doubled as the Sunflower League tournament. Freshman Nate Spencer (73), senior Brett Buxton (74), junior Camron Flanders (76) and junior Spencer Wilson (77) all shot in the 70s for the Lions.
"We hadn't done a whole lot all season long until last week," LHS coach Ron Commons said. "We're coming in relaxed, and maybe at the same time we're peaking at the right time."
LHS, SM East, Free State, SM Northwest and SM West placed 1-3-4-5-6 at league. League runner-up Olathe East is in a different regional.
"This is the first time we haven't had the Olathe schools in our regional," Commons said. "I think the sleeper is Shawnee Mission West. There's a four- to five-school race for three positions."
LHS is deeper than last season when Ryan Morgan was the lone state qualifier for the Lions. Morgan, now playing golf at Rice University, was a two-time state champion.
"Lawrence High has no one single kid, but six really solid players," Schreiner said. "They're obviously playing well."
The Firebirds boast one of the top players in the state. FSHS senior Charlie Santaularia is a three-time league champion. The Texas signee finished second at state last season.
Schreiner said Santaularia, a three-time state qualifier, and other Firebird golfers are familiar with Eagle Bend.
"You don't have to play it a lot and you can still score well," Schreiner said. "There aren't any trick holes. What you see is what you get. You only have to play it once or twice to get familiar with it."
The first tee time for regional is 10 a.m. The final threesome, which includes Santaularia and Buxton, is scheduled to tee off at noon.
Elwell headlines city netters
Lawrence High sophomore Scott Elwell is the city's top entry at the Class 6A regional tennis tournament today at Indian Creek Tennis Center in Overland Park.
Elwell, who placed third at Sunflower League last week, takes a 16-5 record to regional. Free State, Leavenworth, Shawnee Mission East, Shawnee Mission North, Shawnee Mission Northwest, Shawnee Mission West and Topeka complete the rugged regional. SM East, one of the best squads in the state, and SM Northwest finished 1-2 at league.
"I think it's probably the most competitive one we've been in in a long time," LHS coach Dick Wedel said. "Shawnee Mission East and Shawnee Mission Northwest are two of the best Mission schools and that makes it tough. Throw Topeka in there and it makes it real tough."
The top four singles placers and top four doubles placers advance to the state tournament in Wichita on Friday and Saturday.
Baldwin top seed
Baldwin, which finished the regular season 16-2, is the top seed for the Class 4A softball regional at Wyandotte County Sports Complex. The Bulldogs, a second-year program, will open with No. 8 seed DeSoto at 4 p.m. today. The Baldwin-DeSoto winner will play the Mill Valley-KC Piper winner at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The regional final is 5:45 p.m. Wednesday.