Free State senior Jack Junge and sophomore Landon Berquist narrowly missed out on receiving medals at the FSHS Invitational on Thursday at Eagle Bend Golf Course, but that did not do much to diminish their excitement about how the day went for the Firebirds.
Junge and Berquist fired rounds of 3-over, 75 to lead Free State to a sixth-place finish out of the 23 full teams in the tournament. The Firebirds finished with a total of 310 strokes.
"I was really happy for the team," Junge said. "It was a good bounce back. In the first two tournaments we had some bad luck, but this tournament made us a lot more confident in ourselves."
The usual suspects claimed the top five spots in the team standings in Blue Valley North (288), Shawnee Mission East (297), Rockhurst (298), St. Thomas Aquinas (307) and Olathe East (307), but the Firebirds will not see any of those teams in their Class 6A regional, which will be back at Eagle Bend on May 15.
Lawrence High, Manhattan, Topeka High and Washburn Rural will be in the Firebirds' regional, and FSHS beat each of them by at least 10 strokes.
"I hope this is a building block for the future because we all played really well today," Berquist said.
The key to success for both Berquist and Junge was their short game. The top two performers for the Firebirds both struggled at times off the tee, but they feel like they can make some simple changes with a more conservative approach.
"I probably should have hit a few more 3-woods than taking out the driver," Berquist said. "That was probably my biggest mistake."
Will Cook finished just three strokes back of Junge and Berquist with a round of 78. Andrew Park (82), Dylan Sommer (87) and Zachary Lockwood (88) rounded out the Firebirds' sixth-place finish. Justin Siler also carded a round of 82 to pace Free State's junior varsity team to 18th place.
Cole Brungardt medals for Lawrence High
Lawrence senior Cole Brungardt had a career day to lead the Lions to a 14th-place finish.
Brungardt carded a round of 1-over, 73 to finish eighth, and felt good about each aspect of his game.
"I was really solid off the tee. I hit almost all drivers today, which is unusual for me," Brungardt said. "Normally I take a conservative approach and hit 3-woods, but I've been feeling really good with my driver. I was able to hit further down the fairways and I was controlling it well, so I was really hitting the driver well. Then my wedges have been solid all season. I was really dialed in with those still, so that helped."
The LHS senior has shot 73 a few other times, but never in a tournament. Some of Brungardt's best rounds have come at Eagle Bend, and he's excited that the Lions will be competing at the local course at regionals as well.
"Last year every time I played here, I improved my score by one or two strokes," Brungardt said. "If I do that this year … I mean, we play here three times. So we just have to see."
Brungardt's younger brother, sophomore Ross Brungardt, and senior Garrett Wildeman carded respective rounds of 83 and 85 to round out the top three golfers for Lawrence High.
"Ross and Garrett, they both didn't have their best days," Cole Brungardt said. "They've definitely got space to shave off strokes."
Free State Invitational
Thursday at Eagle Bend Golf Course
Team scores: 1. Blue Valley North, 288; 2. Shawnee Mission East, 297; 3. Rockhurst, 298; 4. St. Thomas Aquinas, 307; 5. Olathe East, 307; 6. Free State, 310; 7. Blue Valley, 311; 8. Blue Valley Southwest, 312; 9. Olathe Northwest, 313; 10. Manhattan, 320; 11. Washburn Rural, 325; 12. Christ Prep, 327; 13. Seaman, 328; 14. Lawrence High, 329; 15. Blue Valley Northwest, 332; 16. Shawnee Mission South, 338; 17. Shawnee Mission West, 362; 18. Free State — Silver, 363; 19. Shawnee Heights, 366; 20. Shawnee Mission Northwest, 405; 21. Bishop Miege, 416; 22. Leavenworth, 434; 23. Topeka High, 473.
Medalist: Ryan Bender (Blue Valley North), 70.
Free State scores:T-10. Jack Junge, 75; T-10. Landon Berquist, 75; T-29. Will Cook 78; T-52. Andrew Park, 82; T-81. Dylan Sommer, 87; T-83. Zachary Lockwood, 88.
Free State — Silver scores: Justin Siler, 82; Justin Anderson, 93; Alex Gard, 93; Spencer Bowman, 95.
Lawrence High scores: 8. Cole Brungardt, 73; T-61. Ross Brungardt, 83; T-73. Garrett Wildeman, 85; T-83. Thomas Taber, 88; T-105. Joe Mandigo, 99; 106. Chris Conway, 100.