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Indian golfers state bound

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Hays High School senior golfer Ryan Unruh said he hasn't enjoyed playing at Willow Tree Golf Course in Liberal in the past. Unruh said he's gotten into trouble, hitting it out of bounds and suffered some penalties.

That wasn't the case last Monday at the Class 5A regional there.

Unruh, Hays High's lone senior, was as cool as an arctic breeze and shot a 71, beating the second-place finisher by six strokes. His mark helped lift Hays High to a first-place regional plaque with a score of 311.

"I think it was definitely a good experience," Unruh said. "It gave me some mental toughness."

It would sure help Hays High this Monday at state if Unruh duplicated that finish.

The 5A state championships are hosted at Brookridge Golf and Fitness in Overland Park. Tee off is scheduled for 9 a.m.

"I think I'm ready for state," Unruh said. "I think we are all ready for state. If we come out anything like we did at regionals, then I think we'll have a good chance of posting a really good score."

After 10 holes at Liberal, Unruh actually sat four under par. He finished one under, but it still was an epic run.

"I was like 'wow, the streak just keeps going,' " Unruh said about his reaction after he birdied hole No. 10.

Hays High coach Mark Watts said Unruh's finish was a testament to his dedication to the program. The regional followed graduation, and Unruh could have stayed for Project Graduation, a school-sponsored post-graduation event.

Instead, Unruh skipped it to be with the team.

"I've had seniors who have stayed for that and drove down the next day," Watts said. "He wanted to be down there and be with the team. He wanted to have a good night's sleep and be rested."

It seemed to pay off.

"I finally played the course to perfection, almost," Unruh said. "I played it exactly how I wanted to play it, and all my shots fell into place and it all worked out for me."

Hays High will take a squad that has been a mix-and-match of top scores this season. The Indians have had multiple golfers card scores in the 70s or low 80s.

The regional was the perfect example.

Junior Lane Clark, who typically has been the Indians' No. 5 to 6 golfer, recorded a 78 and placed fifth.

"Lane has been coming on," Watts said. "Lane is a three-sport kid who doesn't pick his golf clubs up until the season. That's kind of scary, because if he would put the time in and really work on that in the summer, he would be real good."

Sophomore Nathan Romme, who earned all-state honors last year, was the Indians' third-best golfer, shooting an 80. Junior Kaden Beilman shot an 82.

Freshman Payton Ruder and sophomore Cash Hobson also will compete at state and shot 85 and 86 at the regional, respectively.

Unruh was happy with how the regional went, but he didn't gain any lofty expectations for state because of it.

"We want to make a good representation of ourselves," Unruh said. "We know we have a good team, but it's tough going up against those private schools from Kansas City. But we are excited to go down there and see what we can do."

The Hays High boys haven't played at Brookridge yet, but Watts had said earlier in the week they planned to play a couple practice rounds this weekend there. They previously had planned to golf there during spring break, but a snowstorm put an end to that.

"You've got to hit it straight on that course, because you can get in some trouble," Watts said. "There's some water that runs through it and some ponds, so you've got to think your way around the golf course."