It was a blustery afternoon on Friday at the Hutchinson Invitational for the Dodge City Red Demons golf team. But with the way that they have been playing this season, it wasn’t enough to slow them down.


It was a blustery afternoon on Friday at the Hutchinson Invitational for the Dodge City Red Demons golf team. But with the way that they have been playing this season, it wasn’t enough to slow them down.
     After coming off a fourth-place finish at the loaded Topeka tournament, the Demons entered the 34-team Hutch meet with lofty goals and high expectations. They would not be disappointed with their performance.
     Behind another solid round from junior Zach Kirby and a personal best day from Brad Hutton, the Demons captured a fourth-place finish out of the 34 teams, racking up a team score of 303.
     Blue Valley West took home first with a collective score of 291, while Shawnee Mission East (297) and Blue Valley North (299) placed second and third.
     “I really felt like we took some steps forward today. Zach (Kirby) had a real good score, one of those lower scores that we’ve been looking for,” said head coach Jim Mapel. “I really feel like we took a step in the right direction. We still have a ways to go, but we’re moving forward and I think we showed that today. The conditions were pretty tough with the wind gusting, but I think we handled it well.”
     Kirby has been red hot for Dodge City as of late, winning the Demons’ invite a week ago with a score of 75. He came back with a top-10 finish in the Topeka tournament on Monday by firing another round in the 70s. He took advantage of his consistent play and an open course in Hutchinson to card a 73, finishing seventh overall in the massive field.
     Also contributing for the Demons was Hutton, who decided to have his best round of the year during the tournament, finishing in 17th place with a round of 75.
     Zach Norton shot a 77, Jace Larson finished with a 78 and Levi Bone came in with an 80 to round out the scoring for Dodge City.
     “As a group we had a lot of birdies out there today, mainly because they drove the ball in the fairway and gave themselves chances on the greens,” Mapel said. “I thought they did a good job of putting themselves in position and from watching Brad and Zach, they were pretty consistent all day, scoring mostly pars and erasing their bogeys with birdies.”
     The Demons also had two golfers competing as individuals, as Adam Dark shot an 82 and Brayden Winans finished with an 84.

Looking to improve
     Despite three first-place and two fourth-place finishes this season in their five tournaments, Mapel still sees areas where his team can improve as the season winds down.
     It will all begin by preparing for their next tournament on Monday in Great Bend, a course that offers different challenges on both sides.
     “We will probably focus a little more on the short game, getting up and down and securing our shots from 50 yards and in,” he said. “We kind of build our practice schedule around the next course we’ll be playing, which we won’t have practice before our next invite.
    "Great Bend is a course that has one side that’s wide open, and the other is really tight. We’ll emphasize hitting the ball straight and keeping it in play.”
     With their three tournament wins in the first three Western Athletic Conference invites, the Demons are sitting pretty atop the league standings. A win in Great Bend on Monday could go a long way toward solidifying their rightful ownership of the WAC title when all is said and done.
     “Of course, we want to get back on the winning track and play a good tournament there,” Mapel said. “We should be in really good shape in the WAC race if we can go out and perform.”