Blue Springs' opposites claim all-conference honors in Big Eight tourney
Off the golf course, Blue Springs High School senior Blake Rooney and his freshman teammate Raiden Paniagua could not be any more different.
Rooney is the quiet team leader who would just as soon leave the course and avoid all interviews, while Paniagua is an animated youngster who loves chatting almost as much as playing.
But once they step on the course, they are nearly identical.
At Monday's Suburban Big Eight Conference Championships at Adams Pointe Golf Club, Rooney shot an 81 to finish in sixth place and Paniagua an 82 to finish in a four-way tie for seventh to earn all-conference status.
Blue Springs South's Ryan Wall shot an 83 to finish 12th and Lee's Summit North's Liam Frank posted an 85 to finish 14th and earn all-conference honorable mention medals. The top 10 golfers earned all-conference honors.
Lee's Summit West won the conference championship with a 315 followed by Liberty (329), Liberty North (349), Blue Springs (352), Park Hill (353) Blue Springs South (361), Raymore-Peculiar (361) and Lee's Summit North (363).
West's Josh Lumby fired a 2-over-par 74 to claim medalist honors.
The Wildcats’ Rooney has been golfing since the eighth grade and Paniagua first picked up a club April 20, 2020, to fight the boredom of the pandemic.
Now, they are a solid round away from going to state as WinterStone Golf Course in Independence is the site for next Monday's Class 5 District 4 championship. There is no sectional tournament this year with a new fifth class.
"Since we missed last season because of COVID, my first goal was to do well today so I could be an all-conference player for three years," Rooney said. "But my real goal is doing well next week to go to state. That's everyone's goal, especially all seniors."
He was a bit disappointed in his round because he was 4-over over his last three holes.
"I could have done a lot better, but at least I did well enough to be all-conference," Rooney said. "Now, we all have a week to prepare for next Monday. I've played WinterStone a lot and I'm excited to see what happens."
So is Paniagua, who set a goal of being all-conference and reached it.
"As a freshman, I was just excited to make varsity," Paniagua said. "This is all so exciting and new to me. I've been playing golf about a year and two weeks and early on, I got a birdie and I started working harder than ever. I am so happy for Blake to be all-conference again and I know he will do well next week. Hopefully, we all do well next week."
Rooney returned the compliment to the freshman, adding, "You can tell how much Raiden loves golf and loves this team. He keeps things lively."
Lee's Summit North coach Kevin Harrison was pleased that Frank earned all-conference honorable mention status.
"Liam had a couple of bad holes or he would have shot much better," Harrison said. "Now, we can all prepare for next Monday."
Added Blue Springs South coach Casey Enright: "Ryan played well today and we all know that he can play even better and we hope that comes next Monday at WinterStone."
South’s Chauncey Small just missed honorable mention all-conference with an 87.
Suburban Big Eight local individual scores
Blue Springs: Blake Rooney, 81; Raiden Paniagua, 82; Carson Corwin, 95; Gavyn Smith, 107; Caden Hoehns, 94.
Blue Springs South: Ryan Wall, 83; Chauncey Small, 87; Adam Suskind, 96; Jake Alderman, 95; Drew Nagel, 112.
Lee's Summit North: Liam Frank, 85; Raef Campbell, 91; Tyler Dailey, 98; Ty Baker, 96; Colin Sukaromya, 91.