Archive for Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Tonganoxie HIgh girls golf reached new heights in 2021 with York’s individual title, team’s fourth-place finish

Tonganoxie High girls golf team members ham it up Monday in Clay Center after placing third in a Class 4A regional and qualifying for state for the second time in three years. Golfers are holding up teammate Hayden York, who finished as runner-up in Clay Center.

Tonganoxie High girls golf team members ham it up Monday in Clay Center after placing third in a Class 4A regional and qualifying for state for the second time in three years. Golfers are holding up teammate Hayden York, who finished as runner-up in Clay Center.

November 10, 2021

It has been a successful fall for Tonganoxie High sports, with one sport really setting the tone for much of the season.

Tonganoxie High girls golf was in just its fifth year as a varsity sport this fall, but it continued to reach new heights.

There was the team’s highest finish at state with a fourth-place standing Oct. 19 at the Class 4A championships at Salina Municipal Golf Course.

And oh yes, there was the first individual title in program history courtesy of junior Hayden York.

She won six consecutive individual titles and set a new school record low score in the process before finishing a regional runner-up on Oct. 10.

It turns out going 7-for-8 is not too shabby, either.

York was tied for ninth after Day 1 of the state championships, but just three strokes back of the leader. Tonganoxie finished fifth as a team, which meant they would advance to Day 2.

The morning of the second day, York practiced on her short game before the final 18 holes.

“Getting on the putting green, I could not putt to save my life,” she said hours after the tournament ended. “That’s what I spent my time on this morning and it finally paid off.”

After shooting an 87 on the first 18, York roared back and shot a 75 the second day. That was seven strokes better than leader Kae Roeder, a senior from Hayden, on the second day. York made up the ground and finished as Tonganoxie’s first state champion with a two-day total of 162. Roeder was second iwth a 166.

“I played the back nine really well,” York explained. “Three holes before the finish, Brent Maycock started taking pictures.”

Maycock is a longtime area sportswriter in Topeka and his sudden attention had York thinking “something was up.”

She knew she was having a good day on the course, but she didn’t want to get ahead of herself.

“Hayden, you have to breathe,” she remembers telling herself. “I think I was needing an oxygen mask.”

But then she finished her tournament and waited for the results. Tonganoxie would have its first state golf champion and squad would climb up a spot to fourth as a team in the final standings.

Senior Chilali Tanner shot a 197 (98 and 99) and placed 33rd, junior Emma Skelley 38th with a 200 (95 and 105), sophomore Santiana Garcia 43rd at 211 (107 and 104), sophomore Abby Clarkson 50th with a 237 (125 and 112) and senior Keerstin McNeely 52nd with a 245 (124 and 121).

Clarkson had a huge Day 2, improving from Day 1 by 13 strokes.

McNeely said the realization of the that final day of the state championships being her last representing Tonganoxie High motivated her.

“I started thinking about this being my last tournament and I’ve got to put my best effort into it,” she said.

In reflecting on her career, she enjoyed seeing herself improve and noticing her scores go down.

“I’m happy because I got to see the program grow itself and the girls on the team grow,” she said. “I made a lot of new friends with golf and playing.”

All of that and a fourth-place finish at state led to “lots of happy tears and excitement,” she said.

For fellow senior Chilali Tanner, it all came together at the right time for the Chieftains.

“I’m pretty proud of what we did as a team,” she said.

For a quick recap, this year THS finished third or better in all of its regular season tournaments. They won four of them, finished second in three and third in two.

After the team’s historic finish, the squad celebrated with a victor’s meal in Salina.

York, like most teammates, selected the steak. York said she ordered a 12 oz. KC strip, “a nice house salad” and a loaded baked potato.

York was proud of her team’s accomplishments this October and looks forward to offseason work with her team and another shot at team and individual titles next year.

“I just have to keep my head on and do what I do best,” York said. “Go play golf. And have fun.”

Tonganoxie advanced to state as a team for the second time in three years, which likely would have been three straight, but York had to leave last year’s regional meet early due to COVID-19 tracing protocols at the time. If she would have been able to finish, Tonganoxie likely would have advanced last year as well.

But fast forward to this season, and things are looking bright for the 2022 edition of THS girls golf.

In total, the Chieftains had four seniors, three juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen on this year’s team: seniors Chilali Tanner, Keerstin McNeely, Sydney Padfield and Katie Skinner; juniors Emma Skelley, Madeline Funk and Hayden York; sophomores Abby Clarkson, Bethany Overmiller, Santaina Garcia, Gage Slabaugh and Gabby Diaz; and freshmen Aubrey Padfield and Lydia Rafols. Manager is Brendan Bowlin.

The girls golf and boys soccer teams were recognized during Monday’s school board meeting for their state performances. Soccer’s third-place finish Saturday had then dubbed “the 4A public school champions” after defeating Augusta for third after both teams lost to private schools in the semifinals.

Sandburg joked that they would try to improve on this year’s finish and be the public school champ and maybe the overall champ in 2022.

He also had hoped that when the team was recognized during the final regular-season football game that “Amish Paradise” would have been their walkup music on the Beatty Field track. He referred, of course, to what has become the team’s official jam on the school van before rolling up to tournaments this year.

Luckily for this squad, there’s always next year.

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