Balanced Indian team ready for regional
By KLINT SPILLER
Son of Karla Spiller
The Hays High School's boys' golf team is seven deep.
It makes it difficult for head coach Mark Watts to select his six-man varsity squad, because anyone of them could card a low score on a given day.
Hays High routinely has shot in the low to mid 300s, and all of the golfers have either shot in the 70s or low 80s.
However, it bodes well for the Indians, because it makes them consistent, which, in turn, makes them dangerous when it comes to the post-season.
"In practice, we are all so close together and competitive, everyone falls into that same little score bracket right around 80, which is a good thing," said junior Kaden Beilman, an all-Western Athletic Conference honorable mention selection.
Hays High will compete Monday in the Class 5A regional golf tournament at Liberal. Tee times is scheduled for 9 a.m. at Willow Tree Golf Course.
The top three teams plus the next five lowest individual scores not on a qualifying team will punch their tickets to the state tournament.
"We've got seven strong players," Watts said. "I think we are preparing ourselves to go to state. I like our chances."
Hays High has qualified the past four years for the state tournament, finishing eighth last year with a young squad.
That team lost one senior, but the Indians gained a talented freshman, Payton Ruder, this year, who has led the squad at some meets, shot in the 70s and earned all-WAC honorable mention honors.
The team is more experienced this year, but still young. Hays High has just one senior, Ryan Unruh, who also garnered all-WAC honorable mention.
The rest of the varsity includes Beilman, sophomore Nathan Romme, an all-state golfer last season, sophomore Cash Hobson and junior Lane Clark.
Junior Chase Lynd will serve as an alternate.
"Everybody has improved, especially over last summer," Beilman said. "Everybody was playing in tournaments and getting out here and practicing, which is good."
The regional will feature familiar competition.
WAC schools Great Bend and Liberal as well as Salina Central, Salina South, Goddard and Goddard-Eisenhower will compete there.
"We've seen all these teams," Watts said. "We've competed against all of them. I think from top to bottom we have a better team than a lot of the teams, but you have to go out and prove it that day. I've had teams that have not done that, but I don't see that with this team. I think we have a good chance."
Willow Tree also is a course these Indians have plenty of experience playing. Hays High golfs there once every season for one of their WAC meets.
"We are going down to beat Willow Tree," Watts said. "We aren't going down to beat those other teams. We are going down to beat that golf course."
Beilman said there's no secret to the course. He said he and his teammates just need to be level headed and play their own game.
"I think we have a good chance of doing really good on Monday," he said.