Lions’ Spencer so close

Bogey on 18th hole denies senior standout first-place finish

Lawrence High senior golfer Nathaniel Spencer is so good, a 2-under par 70 Thursday at the LHS Invitational just wasn’t good enough.

In fact, a bogey on the 18th hole at Alvamar prevented him from breaking 70, prevented him from avoiding a five-man playoff to determine the champion, and, in the end, prevented him from winning yet another tournament. He took second to Shawnee Mission East’s Charles German after a sudden-death playoff.

It was a good day for Spencer, but second place just isn’t ordinary for him.

“It could’ve been better,” Spencer said. “I had three bogeys, and they were up and downs — pretty routine. I just didn’t make the putts. You have those days out there.”

Spencer’s round, coupled with LHS senior Daniel Brumley’s 76, led the Lions to a seventh-place finish in the 25-team field, posting a score of 310. Free State finished 17th in 328 strokes, led by junior Jason O’Bryon’s 78.

Blue Valley North won the meet with an impressive score of 294.

“I think overall it went pretty well,” LHS coach Ron Commons said. “A lot of years, 310 would’ve probably won the tournament. This year, the quality of the field was very tough.”

Considering six players shot under par, Commons probably is right. Spencer was just one of five to shoot a 70, doing so with a 2-under 34 on the front nine and an even-par 36 on the back. The highlight was an eagle on the par-5 eighth hole.

After bogeying the 18th to drop into a five-way tie, Spencer and four others journeyed to the 10th hole to start a playoff. On the first playoff hole, German claimed victory with a birdie, while Olathe East’s Drew Letham dropped out with a bogey. On the fourth playoff hole, Spencer finally emerged to take second place by shooting one better than Blue Valley North’s Brett Iliff on the par-4 14th.

The five-man playoff was a little chaotic, but Spencer’s seen worse.

Lawrence High golfer Nathaniel Spencer chips during the LHS Invitational. Spencer placed second after a sudden-death playoff Wednesday at Alvamar.

“I’ve actually been in an 11-man playoff before,” Spencer said. “It only took two holes to finish, though.”

Brumley enjoyed similar success as Spencer, but only on the final nine holes. After shooting a sluggish 5-over 41 on the front nine, Brumley came out after a 30-minute rain delay to go 1-under on the back nine.

“It was a struggle on the front nine,” Brumley said, “but it kind of motivated me to play better. I knew my team needed the score.”

Lawrence High junior Nat Wells fired an 80, and senior Trent Santee shot an 84 to round out the team scoring.

For Free State, the 328 was a welcome sight after a season of growing pains. Along with O’Bryon’s 78, sophomore Quinn Klutman fired a 79, junior Michael Hrenchir shot 85 and Scott Moseley shot 86.

“I’m very pleased,” FSHS coach Jack Schreiner said. “We’re shooting our best golf at the time of the year we’re supposed to. I just hope it’s enough.”

The LHS Invitational was the last tune-up before postseason play. Both Lawrence High and Free State will depart for Olathe to play the Class 6A regional meet at Heritage Golf Course. The Lions and Firebirds will join Leavenworth, Olathe East, Olathe North, Olathe South, Overland Park Aquinas and Topeka High at the regional.

The top three teams and top five individuals not on a qualifying team will advance to the state tournament May 24 at Topeka Country Club.

“It’s going to be really tough next Monday in both the regionals at this part of the state,” Commons said. “I think there’s five schools in our region that can be in the top three. Some really good teams are not going to make it to state.”