Wildcats finish strong at Class 5 state golf

The Examiner staff

SEDALIA, Mo. — Blue Springs senior Blake Rooney and freshman Raiden Paniagua had satisfying finishes to their 2021 season.

Rooney fired a 75 in the final round Tuesday to tie for 24th at 148 at the Class 5 Missouri State High School Boys Golf Championships at the par-70 Sedalia Country Club.

Paniagua, just a little more than a year after taking up the sport, shot a second straight 79 to finish at 158 and tie for 54th.

Rooney, who shot 73 in Monday’s first round, was within five strokes of the lead at one point Tuesday and finished just three strokes away from earning all-state honors with a top-15 finish.

“It was great to see Blake go out with a bang,” Blue Springs coach Doug Gillispie said. “He was playing the best golf of his career by far at the right time, those were his two best scores of his career on the biggest stage.”

Gillispie was happy to see Rooney’s hard work pay off in his final high school tournament.

“He was one hiccup hole away from being all-state, but he had more than a couple clutch up and downs and amazing saves to put himself in that position,” Gillispie said. “I’m proud of what he has accomplished, not only at state, but throughout his career – the kid is a winner. He has always been a hard worker and stayed focused and we will miss him in a big way.”

Paniagua was one of only six freshmen to qualify for the Class 5 state tournament.

“Great showing, especially for a freshman. He is just getting his feet wet, and I hope this keeps his fire burning to keep getting better,” Gillispie said of the freshman. “We spoke of some goals he has in the future that are pretty lofty, but I think he is capable if he keeps working. I know that he had a good example with Blake to look up to and learn from and I think that will carry over in the future.”

Pembroke Hill’s Ryan Lee shot 13 (67-66) to claim the individual title by six strokes over Rockhurst’s Liam Coughlin and Otto Zinn. St. Louis Chaminade won the team title with a 590 (292-298) total, edging Staley’s 600. Lee’s Summit West, led by Justin Andrews’ and Josh Lumby’s 153, finished seventh at 633.

CLASS 4: Grain Valley sophomore Owen Herbert shot a second straight 80 Tuesday to finish in a tie for 33rd at 160 in the Class 4 Missouri State High School Championships at the par-72 Twin Hills Golf & Country Club in Joplin.

Charlie Aldred, his teammate, tied for 66th at 174 after shooting 94 in Tuesday’s final round.

“Owen really worked hard for this and had to overcome some adversity early, but he stayed with it and did a great job, as he has all season,” said Andy Herbert, his father and coach. “Charlie was playing some of his best golf at the end of the year and that’s what you want to see. It shows he is doing the right things.”

Hannibal’s Quinn Thomas shot 146 (72-74) to win medalist honors by one stroke. DeSmet claimed the team title at 610 (314-296).

CLASS 3: Oak Grove’s Aaron Smith shot 90 Tuesday to finish at 177 and tie for 45th overall in the Class 3 Missouri State Championships at the par-72 Crown Pointe Golf Club in Farmington.

Dalton Gorham, Smith’s teammate, shot 87 to finish at 179 and tie for 47th.

Christian Rischer of Columbia Father Tolton shot 144 (71-73) to win the individual title by eight strokes. St. Joseph Bishop LeBlond took the team title at 625 (314-311).

CLASS 2: St. Michael the Archangel Catholic’s Adam DiMarco finished nine strokes off the all-state cutoff while tying for 22nd at the Class 2 Missouri State Championships.

DiMarco followed his opening-round 92 with an 89 in Tuesday’s final round at the par-72 Silo Ridge Golf Club to finish at 181.

Teammate Collin Simmons shot 95 to finish at 196, tied for 52nd.

Bowling Green’s Brayden Buffington won medalist honors with a 147 (74-73) and Palmyra took the team title at 692 (352-340).