By Brent Maycock, KSHSAA Covered
2023 GIRLS GOLF PREVIEW
2022 State Champion: Olathe Northwest
2022 State runner-up: Shawnee Mission East
2022 Individual champion: Ella Slicker, Shawee Mission East
2022 Review: Olathe Northwest made not only school history a season ago, capturing the first state title in program history, but the Ravens became the first Olathe school to win a state golf title as well. Northwest took a seven-shot lead on Washburn Rural and eight-stroke lead over Sunflower League rival Shawnee Mission East with an opening day 318 and then pulled away from the field on Day Two with a 313 to finish at 631, 19 shots ahead of East. Balance was a strength of the Ravens all season long and it showed up at the state tourney as four Ravens finished in the top 20. Sophomores Avery Hearshman and Claire Sullivan each landed in the top 10 with Hearshman tying for second with Free State’s Claire Berquist and Shawnee Mission East’s Ingrid Blacketer at 150, all just one stroke out of a playoff for the title, which was won by East freshman Ella Slicker with a 149. Junior McKenzie Kelso tied for 13th and junior Julia Beveridge tied for 18th to round out Northwest’s state placers. Slicker found herself down the leaderboard after a first-round 78 put her in seventh place and seven shots off the lead held by Blacketer going into the second day. But Slicker came up with a 71 in the second round and it was enough to leapfrog her all the way to the title. The 1-T2 finish from Slicker and Blacketer helped the Lancers survive a tight battle for the runner-up spot. East’s 650 total was one ahead of Olathe West, two ahead of Rural and three ahead of Blue Valley West as just three shots separated second through fifth in the team standings. Olathe West, which had beaten Northwest at regionals, was led by senior Elizabeth Lyons and freshman Savannah Cagle, who tied for fifth, while Blue Valley West got an eighth from Jenny Kim and tie for ninth from Mia Rodriguez. Mallory Nelson’s 11th led Rural, which also put Raegan Petersen (15th) and Lauren Cox (T18th) in the top 20. Blue Valley’s Hadley Nease also was in the top 10 individually, tying for ninth.
2023 Contenders: After capturing the program’s first state championship last year, Olathe Northwest isn’t going anywhere. The Ravens’ four state placers from the top 18 all are back this season and five of six overall are back. Juniors Avery Hearshman and Claire Sullivan led the state title charge last year with Hearshman tying for second a stroke out of first and Sullivan took seventh. Seniors McKenzie Kelso and Julia Beveridge were also in the top 20 last year, tying for 13th and 18th, respectively, keeping the Ravens’ main core in tact. If Northwest leaves an opening, Sunflower League rivals Shawnee Mission East and Olathe West could be poised to step in and dethrone the Ravens. East boasted the best 1-2 punch at state last fall with sophomore Ella Slicker rallying to take the title by a stroke over a threesome of challengers that also included junior teammate Ingrid Blacketer, Northwest’s Hearshman and Free State’s Claire Berquist. With both returning this year, the Lancers, state champs in 2019 and 2020, only need to see their supporting cast step up a little more this season. No other Lancer finished in the top 30 a year ago with sophomore Adelaide Sullivan tying for 31st. All six Lancers from the state team are back. Olathe West graduated state placer Elizabeth Lyons and one other off its third-place state team, but return sophomore Savannah Cagle, who tied for fifth with Lyons, and three others. Washburn Rural was in second place after the first day of state last year before slipping to fourth. The Junior Blues graduated top state placer Mallory Nelson, but return state placers in senior Reagan Petersen (15th) sophomore Lauren Cox (T18th) and two others off the state team. Blue Valley West won the state title in 2021 before just missing out on a top-two finish last year. Though the Jaguars must replace eighth-place state finisher Jenny Kim and two others, senior Mia Rodriguez returns as a multi-time state placer. Manhattan was a distant sixth place in last year’s team standings, but has its entire state team back this year with junior Kaitlyn Lagabed coming off a tie for 16th individually. Olathe East just missed out on qualifying for the second day as a team and returns four who made the individual cut for the second day, led by sophomore Yufeii Sun, who tied for 16th. Blue Valley’s Hadley Nease also could emerge as a contender for the individual title after tying for ninth last year.
2022 State Champion: Kapaun Mt. Carmel
2022 State runner-up: Emporia
2022 Individual champion: Kinslea Jones, Maize
2022 Review: Coming off a record-setting performance in winning the 2021 state championship by a whopping 89 strokes, Kapaun Mt. Carmel couldn’t quite duplicate that showing in winning its third straight state championship last year. It wasn’t like the Crusaders had to sweat out their title last year, though, as they posted a 318 on the first day to open up a 13-stroke lead over Maize. Kapaun slipped to a 332 in the second round and that was still enough to beat runner-up Emporia by 25 strokes as the Spartans matched the Crusaders’ second-day 332 to overtake Maize for the runner-up spot. Kapaun was led by a runner-up individual finish by sophomore Meg Tilma while senior Alexa Garrett tied for fourth and sophomore Madeline Cartwright added a tie for 18th. All six Crusaders finished in the top 23 overall. Emporia’s runner-up finish was the best in program history with twin sisters Avary and Olivia Eckert each finishing in the top eight with Avary tying for fourth and Olivia placing eighth. Sophomore sister Elise Eckert added a tie for 14th for the Spartans. Maize’s Kinslea Jones rallied to win her second straight individual title. Jones trailed Tilma by a shot after the first day with Tilma shooting a 69, but when she slipped to a 77 in the second round, Jones turned in the low round of Day Two with a 73 to finish at 143 and beat Tilma by three shots. Her title helped Maize hold on to a third-place team finish, nine strokes ahead of Bishop Carroll. Carroll’s Keira Ronsick was six shots back in third at 149, three shots ahead of Garrett and Avary Eckert. Andover freshman Regan Dusenbery was sixth and Seaman senior Lois Deeter took seventh with Deeter helping the Vikings to a sixth-place team finish.
2023 Contenders: Looking to win its fourth straight 5A state championship, Kapaun Mt. Carmel will have to tap into its program depth. Though junior Meg Tilma returns after her second straight top-three individual finish, taking second last year, the Crusaders will miss multi-time state placer Alexa Garrett, fourth last year, and fellow graduate Sophia Gimino, who tied for 23rd. Junior Madeline Cartwright tied for 18th last year and sophomore Ava Truong and senior Tilly Jones both were in the top 23 as well, giving Kapaun plenty of firepower back to make a run at another title. The Crusaders’ top challenge should come from Maize, which was second after the first day last year before slipping to third. Eagle junior Kinlsea Jones is halfway to becoming a four-time state champion, beating Tilma by three shots for the title last year after topping her older sister, Kate, by three strokes for the title in 2021. Jones has plenty back to surround her as well. Junior Charlotte Kerbs tied for 14th, while senior Alexis Elliott and junior Abigail Cavazos also were in the top 30. The Eagles only graduated one player of their state roster from last year. Emporia enjoyed a program-best runner-up team finish last year, matching Kapaun’s second-day total to leapfrog Maize for second. The Spartans have a huge hole to fill with the graduated of twin sisters Avary and Olivia Eckert, who each finished in the top eight last year. Sophomore Elise Eckert will step into the leader role for the Spartans this year after tying for 14th. Fourth a year ago, Bishop Carroll also faces a bit of a rebuild after graduating all but two off last year’s state team. Bella Jones is the Golden Eagles’ top returner, tying for ninth last year. Hays was fifth as a team and could challenge for a top-three finish this year despite the graduation of Katie Dinkel, who tied for ninth last year. Senior Abbie Norris returns after tying for 14th and junior Jaycee Oakley is back after tying for 18th. Four Indians return overall. Seaman was sixth as a team, but lost multi-time placer Lois Deeter to graduation. Everybody else is back, however, with junior Avery Samuelson tying for 18th. The race for the individual title should be a great one with not only Maize’s Jones and Kapaun’s Tilma back after going 1-2, but also with Andover sophomore Regan Dusenbery back after taking sixth to cap a strong freshman season.
2022 State Champion: Wamego
2022 State runner-up: Winfield
2022 Individual champion: Addison Douglass, Wamego
2022 Review: When Wamego captured its first state title in 2021, the Red Raiders did so by the narrowest of margins, edging Winfield by a single stroke. In 2022, Wamego left no doubt in defending its state title. The Red Raiders took a commanding 44-shot lead on the first day of the tournament and didn’t let off the gas on Day Two, posting team scores of 336-338 to finish with a 674 total – a whopping 88 strokes ahead of Winfield for the title. The margin of victory was one shot off the state record of 89 set by Kapaun Mt. Carmel in 2021 while the team score of 674 broke their own 4A meet record of 717 by 43 shots. Seniors Ashten Pierson and Kirby McKee cemented their legacy with top-10 finishes – Pierson second and McKee fifth – to cap careers that saw them help Wamego to four straight top-two team finishes and two straight state titles. But it was freshman teammate Addison Douglass who punctuated Wamego’s runaway victory. The standout put the finishing touches on a dominant debut season, taking the individual state title in a runaway as well, shooting 74-76 to finish at 150, 17 strokes clear of Pierson for the title. The Red Raiders also got a tie for 14th from Sara Springer and a 17th from Trista Hoobler. Tonganoxie’s Hayden York, the 2021 individual state champion, finished third at 168, a shot behind Pierson, while Wichita Trinity Academy’s Loralai Millspaugh took fourth at 169 and McKee was fifth at 172. Winfield’s runner-up team showing was led by Savanna Nickum, who took seventh, and Lilli Simpson, who finished ninth. Hayden was third as a team, three shots behind Winfield, and was led by Avery Grunert’s tie for 14th.
2023 Contenders: With defending state champion Addison Douglass looking to follow up a stellar freshman season, Wamego has the anchor any team looking to win a state title relishes having. The key for the Red Raiders’ bid for a three-peat will be how her supporting cast develops. Graduation hit Wamego hard, claiming three-time individual top-10 state placers Ashten Pierson and Kirby McKee among four seniors. The only other returner from last year’s state-championship team besides Douglass is senior Sara Springer, who tied for 14th. A number of young Red Raiders have been patiently waiting to join the varsity mix and their emergence will go a long way toward Wamego’s three-peat quest. State champion in 2020 and runner-up each of the last two seasons, Winfield is more than capable of challenging for the title again this fall. The Vikings graduated their top state placer from a year ago in Savanna Nickum (7th), but return state placers in sophomore Lilli Simpson (9th) and senior Carley Littell (T18th) and five of six off the state squad overall, three of the returners sophomores. A young Hayden team that featured no seniors came on strong at the end of the 2022 season and hopes to carry the momentum of a third-place state finish over into 2023 and make a serious run at the state crown. The Wildcats were just three shots behind Winfield for second last year and had a pair of state placers in senior Avery Grunert (T14th) and sophomore Lauren Borjon (20th). Senior Hannah Reynoldson just missed a state medal, taking 21st, and was a state placer in 2021. Continued improvement from that trio as well as senior Kyleigh Johnson and sophomore Izzy Glotzbach, who finished in the top 34 will dictate Hayden’s title chances this season. Wellington also emerged as a potential contender late last season and finished just one shot behind Hayden for the final team trophy last year. The Crusaders graduated their highest state placer from last year in Kasiah Richmond (12th), but leaned heavily on a trio of freshmen who will lead the team this year as sophomores. Claire Ginter led that group, taking 16th at state, while classmate Taryn Viramontes just missed giving Wellington a third state placer last year, tying for 21st. The return of the Blasi sisters gives Pratta solid 1-2 punch off last year’s fifth-place state team. Senior Avery Blasi tied for 10th last year, her third state finish of 12th or better, while junior Lexi just missed the top 20 last year in a tie for 23rd. The Greenbacks return five of six off last year’s state team overall. Tonganoxie was the final team to make the Day Two cut last year, taking sixth, and return four of six from its state contingent, though graduation claimed team leader and 2021 individual state champion Hayden York, leaving a big hole at the top of the lineup. Wamego’s Douglass ran away with the individual title, winning by 17 shots. She’ll be the overwhelming favorite to defend her title this year, particularly with the next six individual placers from a year ago all having graduated. But there are capable challengers if Douglass experiences a sophomore slump, including Hayden’s Grunert and Reynolds, Pratt’s Blasi sisters, Winfield’s Simpson and Wellington’s Ginter as well as Eudora senior Joellen Vogt (8th last year), Bishop Miege sophomore Ashley Myers (T10th) and McPherson sophomore Brodie Kuhn (13th). Santa Fe Trail’s Braegan Buessing also is expected to return this year after not playing last year and was a top-five finisher in the Class 3-2-1A state tournament as a sophomore in 2021.
2022 State Champion: Pittsburg St. Mary’s Colgan
2022 State runner-up: Colby
2022 Individual champion: Margaret Ulrich, Wichita Collegiate
2022 Review: After tight battles with Colby for the Class 3-2-1A team championship in 2020 and 2021, St. Mary’s Colgan eschewed any drama in 2022 in capturing its third straight title. The Panthers had winning margins of 22 strokes in 2020 and 19 in 2021, but turned in a domination performance last fall to win by 57 strokes. Colgan posted a 338 team score on the first day to open up a 23-shot lead on the Eagles and then followed with a 322 on Day Two to finish at 660. Colgan dominated the individual leaderboard as well, placing four in the top seven. Senior Ali Scripsick finished runner-up with a 154, while Greta Ison was fourth (165), Ava Scripsick was fifth (168) and Audrey Goetting tied for seventh (176). Molly Swezey also earned a state medal, tying for 18th. Colby had a pair of top-seven finishers in Anna Starbuck (3rd) and Brinley Sims (T7th) and finished 52 shots clear of Caney Valley for a fourth straight runner-up finish. Caney was led by an 11th from Saige Scott and the Bullpups edged Silver Lake and Hoisington by four shots for third. Just as the team title was a repeat from 2021, so too was the individual outcome. Wichita Collegiate sophomore Margaret Ulrich made it two-for-two with individual titles in her career, opening with a blistering 69 and adding a 77 on the second day for a 146, eight shots ahead of Colgan’s Ali Scripsick and 10 ahead of Starbuck. Garden Plain’s Jaycee Brown took sixth while TMP-Marian’s Ashley Hipp and Silver Lake’s Taylor Zordel tied for seventh with Goetting and Sims.
2023 Contenders: Winners of three straight 3-2-1A state titles, St. Mary’s Colgan has the pieces to make it four consecutive crowns despite suffering some big graduation losses. The Panthers lost four members of last year’s state contingent, including state runner-up Ali Scripsick and fourth-place finisher Greta Ison, each of whom were three-time top-10 finishers in their careers. Also gone is Audrey Goetting, who tied for seventh last year. That leaves juniors Ava Scripsick and Molly Swezey as the core to build around after each were state placers a year ago – Scripsick fifth and Swezey tying for 18th. The Panthers have big voids to fill, but so too do their top challengers. Colby has finished runner-up to Colgan each of the past three seasons and graduated half of its state team from a year ago. The good news for the Eagles is Anna Starbuck is back for her senior season. Starbuck claimed the state title as a freshman in 2020 and then took second in 2021 and third in 2022. She’d love nothing more than to bookend her career with a second state title, but to get it, she’ll have to conquer the player who denied her in 2021 and again last year, Wichita Collegiate’s Margaret Ulrich. The Spartan junior is halfway to becoming the latest four-time individual state champion, winning back-to-back crowns. Last year, it was an eight-shot win over Colgan’s Ali Scripsick and 10 shots clear of Starbuck after beating Starbuck by seven shots for her first title in 2021. Starbuck will miss fellow state placer Brinley Sims, who graduated, but will be backed by juniors Logan Nolan and Natalie Wederski with Nolan tying for 31st. Third a year ago, Caney Valley must replace top finisher Saige Scott (11th). Senior Anna Washburn is the Bullpups’ top returner, tying for 24th and is one of three returners overall. Silver Lake and Hoisington tied for fourth last year and have plenty back to challenger for a trophy this season. Taylor Zordel tied for seventh for Silver Lake, which returns four off its state team. Hoisington lost top finisher Ava Henry, who took 12th, but return senior Tricia Schremmer, who tied for 14th and three others as well. Osage City returns four from its sixth-place team with sophomore Peyton Pitts tying for 18th last year. While Ulrich and Starbuck figure to shoot it out for the individual title, Colgan’s Ava Scripsick, Silver Lake’s Zordel and TMP-Marian’s Ashley Hipp also return from last year’s top 10. Goodland was the last team before Colgan to win the state title and though the Cowgirls didn’t make it to Day Two as a team last year, they return the bulk of their squad, including sophomore Tori Jones, who tied for 16th last year as a freshman.