The Andover Central Jaguars boys golf team accomplished an unconventional third-straight state title Wednesday, prevailing in the 5A State Golf Tournament at Dodge City’s Mariah Hills Golf Course.
The Jaguars had won the state title in classification 4A the previous two years.
Head coach Doug Snyder said the team was kind of hoping to defend its 4A title again, then they bumped up to 5A.
“There’s some really good golfers (in 5A) and then a bunch of the really good 4A schools had bumped up, like Hays and us and Maize South,” Snyder said. “But we thought with the group that we had that we would be competitive.”
Among the many talented Jaguars to compete Wednesday was Cooper Schultz, who entered as one of the favorites.
Early on, Schultz was dominant coming out of danger. After hitting his first shot of the day into one of the right bunkers on hole one, he hit his second shot to within about a foot and a half of the hole, tapping in for a birdie on the first hole.
After a par on two, Schultz hit his tee shot on three into rough behind a tree. His second shot go around it and closer to the green but still was in the rough, but he ended up getting his third onto the green and drained his fourth.
“I was feeling pretty good about it, and then the rest of the day (I) just kind of couldn’t really make much,” Schultz said. “I mean I hit good putts, they just didn’t fall.”
He bogeyed hole five, ending the front nine 1-under par.
The back nine was where Schultz’s shots stopped falling, particularly on the greens. He bogeyed 12, and also bogeyed 14 before paring the last four holes.
He finished the day with an even-par 71 and a top-10 finish.
And then there was also the fact his team won the tournament.
“It feels amazing,” Schultz said. “We’ve worked very hard this entire year and just to get the three-peat from now moving from 4A to 5A just feels that much better.”
Schultz’s 71 was the lowest score of the day by the Jaguars, but it was far from the only solid one. Peyton Wilson and Austin Goodrum both shot 73s, Keegan Ellington and Cooper Ward shot 76s and Davis Joseph shot a 79.
“We did have a lot of depth this year,” Snyder said. “Cooper kind of had a bad day today. I mean he shot even par and didn’t have his best (performance). He missed some putts that looked like they were going to go in. I think he thought coming here, and we all kind of did, that he would have a chance to win it.”
Andover Central’s depth was particularly vital this year with the team’s move up to 5A.
“It’s an incredible advantage,” Snyder said.
The top four scores from a team’s players are combined to determine that team’s score, but if two teams tie, the scores from the team’s fifth golfers, and if necessary sixth golfers, can be called upon to break the tie.
“For a while there it was looking like we were maybe going to tie with (St. Thomas Aquinas), but we knew that our probably fifth or sixth man was going to be better than theirs,” Snyder said.
This year’s title, Snyder said, was pretty sweet, even compared to the other two.
“The first one we won, we actually tied and they went to the fifth man and we won, so that’s how close that one was. Last year we just kind of pretty much blew everybody away,” Snyder said. “This one was close. (It) came right down to the wire, and since it’s 5A I would have to say this one probably takes the cake.”