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Competition brings success for Kapaun golf team

Published April 5 at 5:41 p.m. | Last updated April 6 at 8:46 a.m.

Having coach Corey Novascone buy him a muffin after winning a competition in practice is a small prize for Kapaun golfer Jared Burns.

A muffin is just a symbol of the daily grind at practice.

It means Burns took down some of his Crusader teammates in a practice round, which is essentially beating some of the top players in the state.

“Coach is always pushing us and trying to make us better,” Burns said. “We know, even in qualifying, we have to bring our ‘A’ game every day.”

While much of the attention is geared toward senior Sam Stevens and rightfully so — Stevens is the two-time individual Class 5A champion, Kansas Amateur runner-up and has signed to play at Oklahoma State — it’s the depth Kapaun has that makes it so formidable.

“Our top five would be the No. 1 golfer or pretty close on any other team in the area,” Novascone said. “If you took our other guys’ scores — it would be as good as any other team, too.”

Meet the other guys:

First is Burns, a junior, who shot 74 at state last season.

Next is Matt Gilbaugh, who has been a varsity player since he was a freshman and had the Crusaders’ second best average at 74.7. He will play golf at Cornell next year.

Third is Nick Auer, who has signed to play at UMKC and tied Stevens for regional medalist last season, shooting 72.

Finally, there is Alex Graf, who had the fourth scorecard on Kapaun’s state championship team last season.

They are four quality golfers, who have accepted their roles as the complimentary pieces on a team primed to win its third straight state title and 30th overall.

“It doesn’t matter what position we are on the team, we just take pride in being part of the KMC community,” Gilbaugh said. “Somebody has to be in the one spot, two spot and so on. We just try to be the best at that position.”

With a team as stacked in talent as Kapaun, Novascone recognizes that it would be easy for the Crusaders to become complacent. So he tries to find new ways to make practices more competitive and spirited.

“There is always the fear that someone is going to perform better than everyone else in practice,” Gilbaugh said. “Sometimes egos get crushed, but that’s what makes practices so intense. Every shot seems to be pressure-filled.”

Despite having the majority of his team back from last season, Novascone knows that another state title won’t just be given because it says “KMC” on their shirts. He said the sense of entitlement has been overcome.

“Nobody cares about last year,” Novascone said. “It was difficult to put that mindset (of entitlement) aside. But It’s all about this year and sealing the deal in May.”

City League golfers to watch

Bishop Carroll: Matt Sander, sr., Carter Towey, sr., Levi Iseman, sr., Max Iseman, so.

East: Evan Lay, sr., Devere LeCompte, sr.

Heights: Caleb Haight, sr., Luke Gannon, jr., Zach Pitcher, jr.

North: Zach Mitchell, sr., Michael Hatfield, sr., Foster Granon, sr., Brandon Kohl, jr.

Northwest: Parker Welborn, sr., Zach Gustafson, sr., Malcom Graham, jr.

South/West: Gilvon Darkis, sr., Ben Cress, sr., Jonah Barriger, fr.

Southeast: Spencer Brown, sr., Grant Jamis, jr., Chance O’Connor, so.

Area golf schedule

April

7—East, Heights, Kapaun, North, Northwest, West, Ark City, Trinity, Maize South, Independent at Bishop Carroll Invitational (Auburn Hills), Andover Invitational (Crestview); 10—McPherson Invitational (Turkey Creek), Wellington Invitational; 14—GWAL #1 (Braeburn), Andover Central Invitational (Terradyne); 15—Carroll, Hutchinson, Derby, Ark City, Campus, Valley Center, Winfield, McPherson, El Dorado at Newton Invitational (Sand Creek Station), Augusta Invitational; 21—Kapaun, Andover, Andover Central, Trinity, Independent at Collegiate Invitational (Wichita Country Club); 22—GWAL #2 (Sim), Buhler, Goddard, Hutchinson, Maize South, Trinity at Campus Invitational (Pine Bay); 24—East, North, Northwest, Maize, Eisenhower at Dodge City Invitational (Mariah Hills); 25—Carroll, East, Goddard, Campus, Winfield, Maize South, Circle at Ark City Invitational (Ark City Country Club), Collegiate Classic (Cherry Oaks); 28—Derby Invitational (Derby Country Club), Maize South Invitational (Auburn Hills); 29—GWAL #3 (Clapp), Andale, Maize, Mulvane, Cheney at Clearwater Invitational.

May

1—Heights, Maize South, Andover Central, Trinity, Andover, Rose Hill at Valley Center Invitational (Sand Creek Station); 2—Carroll, Heights, Kapaun, Northwest, Derby, Eisenhower, Maize, Ark City, Newton, Winfield, McPherson, Campus at Hutchinson Invitational (Carey Park); 5—GWAL #4 (Auburn Hills); 8—Carroll, Hutchinson, Derby, Ark City, Campus, Newton, McPherson, El Dorado at Winfield Invitational (Winfield Country Club), Andover, Andover Central, Augusta, Buhler, Collegiate, Goddard, Maize, Wellington at Eisenhower Invitational (Consolver); 12—AVCTL I-II Championship (Consolver); 13—AVCTL III-IV Championship (Quail Ridge); 14—GWAL Championship (MacDonald); 19—Regionals; 27—State.