By AUSTIN COLBERT
The Hays High School girls' golf team didn't need to win -- essentially anything outside of not showing up would result in a conference championship.
But after watching Garden City High School dominate the WAC year after year, the Indians wanted to leave no doubt about who rules the roost this season.
"We knew ahead of time we had a pretty good chance to win the WAC with this tournament, but the girls really wanted to win all five tournaments and Garden had been doing that the last four or five years," HHS golf coach Mark Watts said. "It was great for this group of girls because they've put a lot of good effort and time into the season. They've done everything that I've asked. So it was pretty special."
Hays High put the final touches on its first outright WAC championship since 2006 by winning the Great Bend Invitational on Tuesday at StoneRidge Country Club. The Indians shot a four-player team score of 189 in the nine-hole tournament, edging Garden City's 190.
It was the fourth time in five WAC meets this season that Hays High has defeated the Buffaloes by a single stroke.
HHS finished the season with 25 points, five points for winning each of the WAC tournaments. Garden City was conference runner up with 20 points (five runner-up finishes to Hays High at four points each), followed by Dodge City (12), Great Bend (11) and Liberal (seven).
"It was close. In four tournaments, one stroke," said Watts, who was named the WAC coach of the year. "So those girls, they get to put a WAC championship number, or date, up on the board in the gym, next to the boys that had theirs in the spring."
Hays High had four golfers finish in the top eight on Tuesday, led by senior Lexie Schaben's 8-over-par 45 for second place. Sophomore Katie Brungardt shot 46 for third place, junior Taylor DeBoer 48 for sixth place and senior Elissa Jensen 50 for eighth place.
Sophomore Rhian Patterson (50, 10th place) and senior Summer Smith (52, 11th place) also competed as part of the varsity team.
Garden City's Danielle Gaspar won the tournament with 42, clinching her the WAC player of the year award with 70 points. It was her second first-place finish in WAC play, the other coming in the season-opening tournament in Hays. She also had two runner-up finishes.
Gaspar's teammate, Lindsay Bradstreet, took fourth at Great Bend with a 46, giving her second in the final WAC standings with 66 points. The next four (the top six made up the first team All-WAC) all belonged to Hays High.
Brungardt finished with 58 points for third place in the conference, followed by Patterson (54 points), DeBoer (50 points) and Schaben (48 points). Jensen finished with 26 points to finish 11th and earn honorable mention All-WAC honors.
"They've been pretty consistent all year," Watts said. "We've used a lot of people's scores all year. Lexie, I think, won one tournament at Liberal. I think Katie was the low WAC player at Dodge City and then Rhian Patterson, we've used her score about every time out there. Then Taylor DeBoer's been Ms. consistent the whole year, also."
The Great Bend tournament concluded the regular season for Hays High, which will turn its attention toward Monday's Class 4A regional, to be played at the Larned Country Club. Competing with HHS for a spot in the 4A state tournament, played at Kansas City's Dub's Dread Golf Club, are Colby, Goodland, Thomas More Prep-Marian, Holcomb, Hugoton, Larned, Pratt and Ulysses.