Kapaun boys golf overcomes adversity to win Class 5A title

By Joanna Chadwick

The expectation was always that Kapaun Mount Carmel would win the 2021 Class 5A team title, especially after the Crusaders shot a 281 to win their first tournament by about 50 strokes.

While Kapaun fulfilled that prediction with a two-stroke victory on May 24-25 at Newton’s Sand Creek Station to win yet another state golf title, it sure wasn’t easy.

“We had a pretty hard setback about three weeks before the postseason when (sophomore) Conner Geist, who had our lowest scoring average, went out with a season-ending injury,” coach Corey Novascone said.

“… Everyone thought it was going to be a cake walk, and then we had a curve thrown at us. They handled the adversity well.”

Geist, who grew at least seven inches over the previous year, had shot at or below par in 27 qualifying rounds. But he suffered a back injury that forced him into about two months of rehabilitation.

“He was a big impact on our team,” freshman Asher Whitaker said. “Everyone had to step up and play their part.”

But after the first day of the two-day tournament, the Crusaders were rattled.

“We didn’t have too good of a start,” said Brent Reintjes, the team’s only senior. “We were kind of down on ourselves. After the round, coach told us, ‘that’s why it’s a two-day tournament. You can’t win it on the first day, but you can lose it. You didn’t lose it.’

“Coach texted me and said, ‘you’re not out of it. You can go out there and shock the world tomorrow.'”

Reintjes, who drives the ball well and hits most fairways, had an excellent round and played a critical role in Kapaun winning the team title.

“He stepped up and played really well,” Whitaker said. “That was really big for us.”

Reintjes finished third individually and Whitaker fourth.

Novascone calls Reintjes a Covid-19 casualty — while Reintjes is a Division I-caliber athlete, recruiting was especially difficult. With seniors sticking around for another year, there were fewer scholarships available.

“He was really kind of down on himself and kind of had a chip on his shoulder because the phone wasn’t ringing,” Novascone said. “All of our coaches had a talk with him — ‘you know what? You have nothing to lose. Have a good, positive attitude and make that phone ring. Show them what you can do.’

“He turned it around in mid-April and shot 3-under par at regionals to win. Then he blasted it at state.”

Reintjes will play at Dodge City Community College.

“I’m excited to go to Dodge City and really focus on golf,” Reintjes said. “We are going to have a stacked team with four very solid Kansas kids coming in, as well as a couple highly talented international kids.

“Also, (coach) Chris Robinson is a great guy, and I trust him to help me get to where I want to go.

Kapaun’s state championship golf history

2021, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2010, 2004, 2003, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1990, 1989, 1987, 1985, 1984, 1983, 1982, 1981, 1980, 1979, 1977, 1976, 1975, 1973, 1972, 1971, 1964, 1958