by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s young golf team is being thrust into the thick of competitive college golf in a hurry.
One sophomore and five freshmen opened the Blue Devils’ fall schedule when they competed in Bethany College’s 54-hole Swedes Invitational Monday and Tuesday at Salina Municipal Golf Course.
“All five have good swings and have played high school golf but it will be a new experience playing against four-year colleges with juniors and seniors. I’m sure their eyes will be a little wider,” KCKCC coach Gary Shrader said.
Hastings, Bethel, York, Kansas Wesleyan, Bethany and perennial Jayhawk Conference power Barton County Community College joined KCKCC in the opener.
Cam Riley, a sophomore from Liberal, is the lone returnee from last year’s team.
“Cam had a good first season,” Shrader said. “Very steady, kept the ball in play, shot in the mid-70’s.”
Four of the five freshmen have state tournament experience including two state champions, Keegan Ellington of Andover Central and Mark Towey of Wichita Bishop Carroll. Ellington won the Class 5A state championship as a junior in leading Andover Central to back-to-back state titles in 2018-19 while Towey won the Class 4A state championship last spring.
Jacob Hall of Tonganoxie fired a one-over par 73 at Sunflower Hills to qualify for the state tournament as a junior while Dylan Freund was a member of a very competitive Cheney high school team that gained the Class 3A state tournament.
A wrist injury suffered during the football season limited the playing time of Kellen Welsh of Olathe West. Welsh’s older brother, Harry, played for the Blue Devils last season.
“Like all freshmen, these young men need to get out and play competitive golf,” Shrader said. “Weather did not do them any favors this past spring. Rain pushed state tournaments back twice and forced them to be moved. On the plus side, it’s a team that’s working hard and really competing on the practice stations. Obviously with just six players we’ll be able to take all six to all but one of the tournaments.”
The Blue Devils will be competing almost exclusively against four-year college and university teams in their six-tournament fall schedule which will include hosting the Blue Devil Invitational at Dub’s Dread Oct. 7-8.
The 2019 fall golf schedule:
Sept. 15-17 – Evangel Invitational, Rivercut, Springfield, Mo.
Sept. 23-24 – Ottawa Invitational, Eagle Bend, Lawrence.
Sept. 29-Oct. 1 – Culver Invitational, Porta Cima, Sunrise Beach, Mo.
Oct. 7-8 – Blue Devil Invitational, Dub’s Dread.
Oct. 13-15 – Tabor Invitational, Sandcreek Station, Newton.