by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Kansas City Kansas Community College will enter the 2017 spring golf season ranked No. 8 in the NJCAA Division II golf rankings as compiled by GolfStat.com. It was the first time for KCKCC in the fall national rankings.
The high ranking, however, does not come without a high price. Through gerrymandering of the teams in Region VI, the Blue Devils will now be now paired in the same region with the top two ranked teams in Division II – No. 1 Tyler (Texas) and No. 2 Murray State of Tishomingo, Okla., along with another Oklahoma power, Seminole. The remainder of the seven-team Region VI will include Allen County, Coffeyville, Independence and KCKCC.
The Blue Devils earned the No. 8 ranking with two firsts, a second, third and fifth in five fall tournaments. In addition, B teams recorded fourth, fifth and sixth place finishes.
KCKCC won its own Blue Devil Invitational played at Rolling Meadows in Junction City and tied for first with perennial Jayhawk Conference power Barton County in the Coffeyville Invitational played in Bartlesville, Okla. No other community college team finished ahead of the Blue Devils in a schedule made up of mainly of four-year programs such as Missouri Valley, Morningside and Park University.
The fall schedule enabled KCKCC head coach Gary Shrader to play his entire 10-man squad in four of the five tournaments.
“It not only gave everyone a chance to show their competitive skills but I was able to use the tournaments as qualifiers for the next tournament,” Shrader said.
Six Blue Devils finished in the Top 10 in Region VI this fall led by Derby sophomore Jeremy Durham, who was No. 1 with a stroke average of 75.71. He was followed by Blue Valley North sophomore Evan Shartzer, who was third (76.86); sophomore Marc McLain of Bonner Springs and Wichita freshman Bobby Armstrong, who tied for sixth (77.57); freshman Micah Morris of Guthrie, Okla., ninth (78.00); and Nick Wagner, a freshman from Wichita Maize South 10th (78.71).
Rounding out the 10-man squad were sophomores Matt Thayne and Jack Barnhart, both of Hesston; and freshmen Zach Miller of Greely and Cody Foster of Shawnee Heights in Topeka.
As a team, the Blue Devils averaged 75.86 strokes per round.
“This is a very competitive and evenly matched squad with high hopes for next spring,” Shrader said.