Leonetti, Rural blow away City golf field, fall short in quest for West Invitational title
TOPEKA, Kan. – At the completion of his first nine holes of Monday’s 27-hole City Golf Tournament at Topeka Country Club, Luke Leonetti didn’t completely like his position
Sure, he trailed Topeka West’s Myles Alonzo by just one stroke, shooting a 39 to Alonzo’s 38. But from a game standpoint, the Washburn Rural junior simply needed a reset.
“Considering I hit one green and zero fairways on that nine — I got up and down from everywhere — I knew I was better than that,” Leonetti said. “I knew my ball-striking wasn’t where it needed to be, and if my short game could be like that and I get my ball-striking where I needed it to be, I was set up pretty well for the last 18. I just wanted to hit the ball better and carry my short game over.”
The lunch break proved to be quite advantageous for Leonetti, who mostly put it all together over the last 18 holes. After a four-over 39 in the morning nine, Leonetti played his final 18 holes in 4-over as well, shooting a 75 to finish with a 27-hole total of 114 to capture his first city title.
Leonetti won by eight strokes over Seaman’s Tim Biggs, leading Rural to its 11th straight City Championship. The City Meet was held in conjunction with the Topeka West Invitational with 15 other schools joining the city schools for the afternoon 18 holes.
And though Leonetti’s final 18 was good enough to secure the City crown, he came up just short in his bid to add the West Invitational title as well, seeing playing partners Chance Rinkol of Blue Valley and Ian McCrary set a blistering pace in extremely windy conditions that made scoring at TCC even tougher than usual.
Rinkol, a freshman won the meet title with a 2-under 69, the lowest winning score in the West Invitational since Manhattan’s Cole Gritton shot a 68 in 2016, while McCrary was one shot back with a 1-under 70.
“I love playing with those guys; they’re so good and so fun to watch,” Leonetti said of his group. “It’s a lot easier to chase than be chased. I was chasing the whole entire time and I felt good. I knew I was probably in pretty good shape for the city event, but I really wanted to catch those guys. I wanted to beat them, but it is what it is and I’m pretty satisfied.”
Rural saw its string of two straight West Invitational titles end as the Junior Blues finished fifth with a team score of 327. Rinkol led Blue Valley to the team title as the Tigers posted a 304 — the lowest team score since Rural’s 292 in 2015 — while four shots separated second through fifth.
Rural’s only other individual finisher in the top 20 of the West Invitational was Cole Kucera, who tied for 10th with an 80.
“We just weren’t very consistent today,” Rural coach Jared Goehring said. “Ultimately the goal was to win City today, which we did and I’m proud of them for that. But the big goal was to win the Topeka West Invitational. Blue Valley has a great team and they responded to the conditions and we didn’t handle them as good as we should have.”
During the lunch break, Leonetti regrouped. After being errant off the tee during his morning nine, he kept the driver in the back for the final 18 holes, opting for a 2-iron off the tee to keep the ball trajectory lower in the tree-lined fairways and out of the howling wind.
“My game plan changed,” he said. “If you’re missing these fairways, the rough’s so thick and you’re punching out and then from 50 and in and on the green you have to be lights out. The guys today, that’s how they beat me. The hit fairways and made putts .I did what I could, but I couldn’t catch them.”
Likewise, nobody in the city field could catch Leonetti once he dialed his game in.
Alonzo saw his first slim lead after nine holes disappear quickly as he ballooned to nines of 41 and 45 in the afternoon for an 86 that dropped him to third at 124. Shawnee Heights’ Aiden Jones was tied with Leonetti at 39 after the morning nine, but he faded as well with an 89 in the afternoon.
Biggs surged into second with an afternoon 81 following a morning 41, finishing eight strokes behind Leonetti with a runner-up 122.
Rural dominated the City top 10 with Kucera and Joe Morse tying for fourth at 125, Giles Frederickson tying Shawnee Heights’ Alex Valdivia for sixth at 126 and Turner Depperschmidt taking eighth at 127. The Junior Blues finished with a 485 team score, 32 ahead of Heights, which also got a ninth from Jones (128) and 10th from Ethan Rottinghaus (129).
At Topeka CC
Washburn Rural 485, Shawnee Heights 517, Seaman 533, Hayden 598.
1. Leonetti, Rural, 114; 2. Biggs, Seaman, 122; 3. Alonzo, West, 124; 4.(tie) Kucera, Rural and Morse, Rural, 125; 6. (tie) Valdivia, Heights and Frederickson, Rural, 126; 8. Depperschmidt, Rural, 127; 9. Jones, Heights, 128; 10. Rottinghaus, Heights, 129.
Hayden results — Pivarnik, 130; Scott, 152; Alfonsi, 156; Foster, 164; Pryor, 166; Borjon, 170.
Other Seaman results — Wilhelm, 131; Weir, 138; Cowan, 142; Moss, 148.
Other Heights results — Zerger, 134; Peterson, 140; Ortiz, 149.
Topeka High results — Hicks, 181; Labrador-Perez, 198.
Other West result — Jachens, 150.
Other Rural result — Higgins, 131.
TOPEKA WEST INVITATIONAL
At Topeka CC (par 71)
Blue Valley 304, Blue Valley Northwest 324, SM East 325, Olathe Northwest 326, Washburn Rural 327, Blue Valley West 333, Manhattan 342, Free State 345, Emporia 345, SM Northwest 352, Blue Valley North 354, Shawnee Heights 355, Seaman 358, Olathe North 366, Dodge City 367, Salina Central 381, Hayden 392, Lawrence 408, Junction City 453.
1. Rinkol, Blue Valley, 69; 2. McCrary, Blue Valley Northwest, 70; 3. Leonetti, Washburn Rural, 85; 4. (tie) Neal, Olathe North; Gogel, SM East and Ackerman, Blue Valley, 77; 8. (tie) Eckart, BV North and Baker, BV West, 78; 10. (tie) Smith, Dodge City; Moreland, SM East; Conley, Olathe Northwest; Dines, Olathe Northwest and Kucera, Washburn Rural, 80.