Kansas City Kansas Community College's young golf team is going to be thrust into the thick of competitive college golf in a hurry.
One sophomore and five freshmen will open the Blue Devils' fall schedule when they'll compete in Bethany College's 54-hole Swedes Invitational Monday and Tuesday at Salina Municipal Golf Course.
"It will be an adventure for us," says veteran KCKCC Coach Gary Shrader. "All five have good swings and have played high school golf but it will be a new experience playing against four-year colleges with juniors and seniors. I'm sure their eyes will be a little wider."
Hastings, Bethel, York, Kansas Wesleyan, Bethany and perennial Jayhawk Conference power Barton County Community College will join KCKCC in the opener.
Cam Riley, a sophomore from Liberal, is the lone returnee from last year's team. "Cam had a good first season," says Shrader. "Very steady, kept the ball in play, shot in the mid-70's."
Four of the five freshmen have state tournament experience including two state champions, Keegan Ellington of Andover Central and Mark Towey of Wichita Bishop Carroll. Ellington won the Class 5A state championship as a junior in leading Andover Central to back-to-back state titles in 2018-19 while Towey won the Class 4A state championship last spring.
Jacob Hall of Tonganoxie fired a one-over par 73 at Sunflower Hills to qualify for the state tournament as a junior while Dylan Freund was a member of a very competitive Cheney high school team that gained the Class 3A state tournament.
A wrist injury suffered during the football season limited the playing time of Kellen Welsh of Olathe West. Welsh's older brother, Harry, played for the Blue Devils last season.
"Like all freshmen, these young men need to get out and play competitive golf," says Shrader. "Weather did not do them any favors this past spring. Rain pushed state tournaments back twice and forced them to be moved. On the plus side, it's a team that's working hard and really competing on the practice stations. Obviously with just six players we'll be able to take all six to all but one of the tournaments."
The Blue Devils will be competing almost exclusively against four-year college and university teams in their six-tournament fall schedule which will include hosting the Blue Devil Invitational at Dub's Dread Oct. 7-8.
The 2019 Fall golf schedule:
Sept. 8-10 – Bethany College's Swedes Invitational. Salina Municipal.
Sept. 15-17 – Evangel Invitational, Rivercut, Springfield, MO.
Sept. 23-24 – Ottawa Invitational, Eagle Bend, Lawrence,
Sept. 29-Oct. 1 – Culver Invitational, Porta Cima, Sunrise Beach, MO.
Oct. 7-8 – Blue Devil Invitational, Dub's Dread
Oct. 13-15 – Tabor Invitational, Sandcreek Station, Newton.
Kansas City Kansas Community College's golf team of (from left) Kellen Welsh, Keegan Ellington, Dylan Freund, Cam Riley, Mark Towey and Jacob Hall will open the season in the Swedes Invitational in Salina Monday and Tuesday. (KCKCC Photo by Gary Shrader)