CHANUTE — Kamron Blair of Parsons had one of her best rounds all year at Monday’s KSHSAA 4A Regional Golf Tournament, qualifying for state with a sixth-place finish.
Blair’s state bid ends an eight-year drought for the Parsons girls golf program, which hadn’t sent a girl to state since 2013.
“It’s a big deal to me. I’ve worked hard to get this far, so seeing progress throughout the year means a lot to me,” Blair said. “It was a rough start with my nerves and everything. But I was able to stay positive throughout the day and maintain.”
Blair shot a 97 on the day — a 49 on the front nine and 48 on the back nine. Blair was the highest-placing golfer to qualify for state individually — the top four finishing teams qualify their entire team to state, then the next best six individuals punch tickets.
“It came down to how well everybody played on a wet course,” Parsons head coach Paul Duroni said. “I didn’t know how it’d work out for her. But she got the better end of the deal over the course of the day.”
While Blair ended a drought for Parsons, she also overcame her own adversity after scoring a nine on the first hole of the day.
“That’s the thing with golf and with Kamron — she can get frustrated, but she knows how she’s going to do,” Duroni said. “She won’t let one bad shot or one bad hole affect her day. She’s used to playing her game.”
Blair was the first individual cut from qualifying for state last year, so earning a bid this year evoked elation from the sophomore.
“I ran to my dad, gave him the biggest hug and we both started crying,” Blair said. “It was such a rush.”
Putts, chips and approach shots were the moneymakers for Blair.
“My putts and chips were what saved me,” Blair said. “And my iron shots got me there.”
Labette County also qualified two golfers to state at Monday’s regional.
Josie Hayward, a junior and daughter of head coach Tammy Hayward, also shot a 97 to tie with Blair.
“She was probably the most relaxed I’ve seen her play,” Tammy Hayward said. “She stayed focused for the full 18 holes, which can be a struggle. She enjoyed her day and just let the pressure go with expectations.”
Lydia Hall, a senior for Labette County who started the sport this season, earned a surprise bid to state by finishing 16th with a score of 113.
“She started the year a little rough but consistently worked on all the technical skills of golf,” Hayward said. “She’s great with her club selection. Yesterday, she just played and quit overthinking. She’s been very capable all year and she shot very well to surprise us.”
Qualifying two golfers to state was affirmation for the Labette County program.
“It was a huge goal of mine to get numbers up,” Hayward said. “This is the first time to score as a full team at regionals since I took over. We had goals throughout the season and we’ve met them. Being able to take more than one girl to state is a huge plus.”
Winfield won the team regional title, scoring 362 on the day. Winfield was followed by Fort Scott (438), Chanute (450), Independence (453), Wellington (455), Labette County (466), Mulvane (505) and Parsons (543).
Fort Scott’s Karli Chipman shot an 85 to win the individual regional title.
In other Parsons results, Madison Shepard finished 32nd (136), Malin Gecke 38th (154) and Chloe Pontius 39th (156).
As for Labette County, Ava O’Brien finished 21st (118) and Mia Howard 33rd (138).
Hayward said her daughter and Hall will go into next week’s two-day, 36-hole state tournament in Salina with no goals other than enjoyment.
“We feel like state is just payday,” Hayward said. “Making it to state was the expectation. When we go, we’ll enjoy the experience. Other than that, we won’t put pressure on ourselves to have a certain rank.”
As for Blair, a goal of making it to Day 2 is the starting point.
“We’ll get her a practice round on Sunday,” Duroni said. “It’ll be 18 holes each day, so the goal is to make the cut and make that second day. We’ll see how she does.”
“I know it’s going to be challenging,” Blair added. “Salina is a long course. So I’m just going to try my best and see what happens.”