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HHS golf hosts regional





If there is one tournament this season the Hays High School boys' golf team would like to forget, it was the Bob Blazer/Hays High Invitational at Smoky Hill Country Club on April 22.

The Indians' annual home meet on their home course resulted in a third-place finish, with senior Kaden Beilman's 80 their top score. On Monday, Hays High will host its Class 5A regional at Smoky with a chance to reclaim its usual dominance at one of the state's most difficult courses.

"I think that's going to push us even further to try harder and play good on our home course, especially since it is our home course. We want to show that we are good here," Beilman said. "There are a lot of secrets to this course, and I feel like that is a big advantage to us. I feel like we might not have taken advantage of that when we played it the first time. I think there is a little factor of redemption and we want to redeem ourselves here."

Teams will tee off beginning at 9 a.m. Monday, with the top three teams and next five lowest individual scorers not on an automatic qualifying team advancing to next week's state tournament in Wichita.

Hays High will be competing against many familiar teams, including Great Bend, Liberal, Salina Central and Salina South. Less familiar opponents include Newton and Valley Center, one of the tournament favorites.

The Indians have beaten most of these same teams throughout the season, but they will have to ignore their previous results at Smoky and look toward getting back to the state tournament, a nearly annual occurrence.

"We are going to look past that," Hays High golf coach Mark Watts said of their third-place finish on April 22 at Smoky. "I think we have something to prove with what we shot last time. We weren't happy with the way we played it. I think if we had done well in that thing we wouldn't have had to worry about the WAC championship in the end."

Confidence should be high for the Indians heading into Monday's regional, as they are coming off a tournament at Liberal in which they clinched their first Western Athletic Conference title since the current seniors were freshmen.

Hays High placed three golfers on the All-WAC team (top six), led by Beilman's second-place finish. Sophomore Payton Ruder was fourth and junior Nathan Romme sixth, while senior Lane Clark was named honorable mention.

"It definitely means a lot to me. My freshman year we won WAC, but I really wasn't a part of the scoring team," Beilman said. "It really means a lot to me to win that WAC team title and put our number up there in the gym. The individual one doesn't mean as much to me. It's kind of just a number. But I really take that to heart winning the team one."

The Indians have been the epitome of a team this season, with all six of its varsity golfers being relatively close in scoring average. They have had a revolving door all season as far as who their best finisher would be at any given tournament, but their lack of a truly low scorer has also hindered them at times.

The Bob Blazer in April was one of the few times where the Indians couldn't get anyone going. But Hays High looks to be more confident and determined heading into regionals, and hopes its extensive knowledge of the course will lead to a return trip to state.

"You have to hit your fairway off your drive. A lot of other courses we play you can spray the ball off your drive. But this one you have to hit a lot of fairways," Romme said of Smoky. "After we played here our last tournament at Smoky it wasn't so good. But I think we will play better this time ... that's something we feel like we should do is be able to make it to state. It's not like we are saying we're gonna, but I feel like we should."