By RICK PETERSON
It was an ugly day for Monday's Class 5A regional tournament at Lake Shawnee Golf Course, but a pretty finish for the Shawnee Heights golf team.
Seniors Alex Valdivia and Tyler Lincoln went one-two individually to lead four T-Birds in the top 10 as Jane Yi's team overcame awul conditions to roll to the team championship by a whopping 26-stroke margin (314-340) over Emporia.
Monday's tournament was played in a steady to heavy rain, but Shawnee Heights was up to the challenge en route to claiming the top qualifying berth for next Monday and Tuesday's state tournament in McPherson.
"I'm definitely very proud of what they did in these conditions,'' Yi said. "It wasn't letting up and then it finally did, and it's hard to play when it's wet and then the rough was really thick.
"The kids were really trying to stay in the fairway and not get in the rough and it they did they'd bite the bullet and go, 'OK, now I'm playing for bogey.' They were doing a really good job of playing smart.''
After bogeying his first two holes of the day, Valdivia, the two-time United Kansas Conference champ, rallied to shoot a two-over-par 72 and earn medalist honors by two strokes over teammate Lincoln, the 2023 Topeka City champ.
"I usually kind of struggle a little bit in the rain so I just kind of played smart and was able to put a decent score up,'' Valdivia said.
Valdivia said it was an advantage to be playing on a Lake Shawnee course he's very familiar with.
"I play here a decent amount of time so I just kind of stuck to what I've always done here,'' he said. "I still have a couple of things to work on. I didn't hit my irons great but I was just getting it up there pretty close and getting up and down or getting a two-putt.
"I played pretty smart and I just didn't put myself in any big danger where I could get a double or anything like that.''
Shawnee Heights also got a tie for fifth from senior Aiden Jones, who shot an 83, while junior Jensen Crawford tied for ninth with an 85 to round out the T-Birds' top four finishers.
Junior Zackary Hohman added an 87 and senior Tanner Zerger a 93 for the T-Birds, who claimed the regional championship after finishing second in last week's UKC and city tournaments.
Topeka West junior Myles Alonzo made it a one-two-three individual finish by city golfers, finishing third with a 79.
Alonzo, a returning state medalist, qualified for state as an individual as did Seaman junior Zach Weir, who tied for ninth with an 85.
The state tournament will be played at McPherson's Turkey Creek Golf Course and Yi said Monday's performance was a momentum-booster for the T-Birds heading to state.
"It's definitely huge momentum,'' Yi said. "I've got four seniors on this team and the other two are juniors, and for my four seniors, this is huge. They wanted to make it as a whole team to state.
"So playing this well and scoring this low together as a team is great momentum for us for next week.''
Although players had to battle through miserable conditions, Yi said she was glad that they were able to get the regional in.
"I was watching (the weather) since yesterday and I''d rather get it in because the thing is they were all hyped up and ready to go today,'' Yi said. "And when you delay sometihing like that it kind of throws off the groove in a sense.
"Even though it was Mother's Day we came out yesterday and they worked on their game. So they were ready to go and I would have been more disappointed if we didn't get it in.''
CLASS 5A REGIONAL GOLF
At Lake Shawnee Golf Course
Shawnee Heights 314, Emporia 340, Basehor-Linwood 344, De Soto 361, Lansing 376, Seaman 379.
1. Valdivia, Shawnee Heights, 72; 2. Lincoln, Shawnee Heights, 74; 3. Alonzo, Topeka West, 79; 4. Youngblood, Basehor-Linwood, 81; 5. (tie) Jones, Shawnee Heights, and Massey, Emporia, 83; 7. (tie) Jacob, Emporia, and Kerr, De Soto, 84; 9. (tie) Crawford, Shawnee Heights; Lowe, Basehor-Linwood, and Weir, Seaman, 85.
Individual state qualiiers -- Alonzo, Topeka West; Kerr, De Soto; Weir, Seaman; Thurlow, De Soto; Allen, Lansing.
Other Shawnee Heights -- Hohman 87, Zerger 93.
Other Seaman -- Williamson 95, Mack 97, Flanagan 102, Gentry 113, Lister 119.
Other Topeka West -- Lane 120, Locker 123.