KEARNEY — Kearney High is returning to the state golf tournament.
The Bearcats used a strong back nine Monday at Meadowlark Hills to punch their ticket to the state tournament May 21-22 in Norfolk.
Kearney shot a four-player score of 320 to finish 11 strokes behind the winner, Lincoln Southwest, in the A-2 District. Gretna was a close third at 324 and Bellevue West was fourth with a 340.
The top three teams and any other individuals in the top 10 qualify for the state tournament.
At the turn Monday, the Bearcats found themselves in a fight for the last spot, leading fourth place by only three strokes.
"We had some guys who struggled a little bit on the front nine. But we had two kids who really showed up big on the back and ended up with some pretty darn good scores," first-year KHS coach Ryan Waters said.
Stepping up were Trevor Kroenke, who was third with a 76, and Cole Feddersen, who placed fifth with a 77. Kroenke was playing in the No. 4 spot for Kearney, and Feddersen was in the No. 3 position.
Kroenke was solid both nines, Waters said, while Feddersen "really came together on the back.
"Those two really helped us out because Jake (Ellis) and Preston (Skeen), our 1 and our 2, kind of struggled a bit. There were a few holes where there were some OB issues and some lost ball issues. They both had a tough go."
Ellis shot an 82 to tie for 10th place, "but for his standards, it could have been better," Waters said.
Skeen finished with an 85. Maguire Widdowson was Kearney’s fifth golfer, shooting a 91.
"Preston blew up on the front then got better on the back. (He) just kind of stayed consistent on the back to make sure it didn’t turn into a super high score," Waters said.
A super-high score might have knocked Kearney out of contention.
Lincoln Southwest’s Josh Bartels was the individual medalist, shooting a 73. Bellevue West’s Ryan Kamentz was second with a 75.
With the tournament on Kearney’s home course, Waters thought the Bearcats could go toe-to-toe with Southwest.
"Especially after the practice round yesterday. The practice round yesterday went real well. I really didn’t think third place was going to come into play," he said.
But that could have been the case for his players, too.
"Maybe we weren’t as focused as we should have been," he said.
At Meadowlark Hills
1, Lincoln Southwest 309. 2, Kearney 320. 3, Gretna 324. 4, Bellevue West 340. 5, Elkhorn 341. 6, Lincoln High 419. 7, Lincoln Northeast 428. 8, South Sioux City 479.
Top 10 Individuals
1, Josh Bartels, LSW, 73.2 , RYan Kamentz, BW< 75. 3, Trevor Kroenke, KHS, 76. 4, Tanner Rigg, LSW, 76. 5, Cole Feddersen, KHS, 77. 6, Colton Stock, GR, 78. 7, Geran Sander, LSW, 79. 8, Colin Kitson, GR, 80. 9, Hudson Schulz, LSW, 81. 10T, Wyatt Behlen, ELK, 82. Jake Ellis, KHS, 82.
B-4 at Lake Maloney
1, North Platte 308. 2, Cozad 338. 3, McCook 339. 4, Alliance 347. 5, Broken Bow 353. 6, Scottsbluff 366. 7, Gothenburg 370. 8, Sidney 381. 9, Gering 385. 10, Chadron 413. 11, Lexington 415. 12, Ogallala 436.
Top 10 Individuals
1, Finn Lucas, NP, 76. 2, Adam Cole, COZ, 76. 3, Andrew Phillips, NP, 76. 4, Trevor Berry, CHA, 78. 5, Jayden Jones, NP, 78. 6, Brady Esch, MC, 78. 7, Tanner Ruda, NP, 78. 8, Jakeb Scherer, GB, 79. 9, Cayden Jobman, SID, 81. 10, Crayten Cyza, AL, 82. T10, Kasch Morrison, NP, 82.