by Alan Hoskins
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s young golf team is ready to move up in the Jayhawk Conference standings this spring.
“I think we’ll be much better this semester,” said veteran coach Gary Shrader. ‘We have one sophomore and five hungry freshmen who did a lot of growing up the first semester. It usually takes five or six tournaments to find out what it takes to be competitive at the collegiate level.”
The lone sophomore, Collin Herron of Topeka Hayden, will be joined by freshmen Alec Otting of Basehor-Linwood, Montana Fasching of Piper, Seve Sites of Shawnee Mission West and Dalton Ayres and Lane Pauls of Newton in the season opening Ottawa University Invitational at Eagle Bend in Lawrence..
The Ottawa tourney will be one of three in which the Blue Devils will be going head-to-head four-year college and university teams.
“Playing in the Ottawa, Bethel and Haskell tournaments helps get that much more experience,” Shrader said.
The only two-year college in the 11-team William Woods Invitational in the fall, the Blue Devils finished fourth and then were third in their own Blue Devil Classic at Dubs Dread. Sites had the best individual finishes of the year, placing seventh in the Alvamar designated and 13th at Williams Woods while Ayres was 19th at William Woods.
“We haven’t gone real low but we’ve had pretty good team scores for being so young,” Shrader said.
The Blue Devils will enter the second half of the conference season right in the middle of the 10-team conference race, which is decided by three designated tournaments in the fall and three in the spring. Team totals are determined by the low four scores of each team.
Sixth in the first two designated tournaments in the fall, the Blue Devils were fifth in the final tourney at Alvamar and are fifth behind Dodge City, Johnson County, Hutchinson and Barton going into the spring.
“All four of those teams have international players which makes it difficult,” Shrader said. Dodge City, with three of the top five individuals, won each of the fall tourneys.
“We’ve got six guys and we can play with six guys,” Shrader said. “It eliminates them worrying about qualifying and lets them concentrate on those areas they need to work on.”
Shrader’s main emphasis heading into the spring semester is on course management.
“There’s two ways to go,” he said. “You can hit it as hard as you can and then go recover it, probably in the rough, or you can hit it in the fairway and rely on your short game. If you don’t hit the fairway, though, it’s probably going to be tough just to make bogey.”
Emphasis will also be where to play the ball.
“If you’re uphill or downhill or above or below the ball on a side hill, the ball is going to go different than from a flat surface so you need to know where to put the ball in your stance and what direction the ball will go,” Shrader said.
This spring’s designated tournaments will be played at Salina Municipal March 23-24 and Rolling Meadows in Junction City April 6-7 with the KJCCC championship to be determined over 54 holes at Sand Creek in Newton April 20-22. In addition to the Ottawa opener March 10-11, the Blue Devils will compete in the Bethel tourney at Sand Creek March 29-30 and Haskell tourney in Holton in April.
The regional tournament will be played April 27-29 at Spring Hollow in Burlington, Iowa, which, will also be the site of the NJCAA Division I national championship May 13-16.
Kansas City Kansas Community College
2014 Spring Golf Schedule
March 10-11 – Ottawa University Invitational, Eagle Bend, Lawrence
March 23-24 – Jayhawk Designated No. 4, Salina Municipal.
March 29-30 – Bethel Invitational, Sand Creek, Newton
April 6-7 – Jayhawk Designated No. 5, Rolling Meadows, Junction City
April 13 – Haskell University Invitational, Holton
April 20-22 – KJCCC Championship, Sand Creek Newton
April 27-29 – NJCAA Region 3, Sprint Hollow, Burlington, Iowa
May 13-16 – NJCAA Division I national championship, Spring Hollow, Burlington, Iowa