2021 Boys Golfer of the Year: Blue Springs' Rooney finishes high school career with another state trip
When Blake Rooney earned a trip to the state golf championship as a sophomore, the Blue Springs High School standout set a goal of returning his junior and senior campaigns.
That didn't happen as the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out all spring sports in 2020. And it added a bit of pressure to Rooney's senior season with the Wildcats golf team – a season that ended with him being named The Examiner’s 2021 Boys Golfer of the Year.
"I put a lot of pressure on myself to get back to state after I went as a sophomore and then we missed out on last season because of the pandemic," Rooney said. "I started the season on fire, then I had to battle through some pain because of scoliosis (a sideways curvature of the spine)."
He soldiered through the pain, which will be corrected in a July surgical procedure, and earned all-conference recognition, shooting an 81 to finish in sixth place at the Suburban Big Eight Conference Championships at Adams Pointe Golf Club.
He then needed a top-18 finish at the Class 5 District 4 tournament at WinterStone to return to the state tournament.
The cutoff was 82, which was Rooney’s score, and that meant he had fulfilled his biggest single goal.
“That was a long afternoon,” said Rooney, who waited and watched the leader board as golfers came in and listed their scores. It was so close, that five golfers finished with a score of 82.
His senior year ended with a 24th place finish at state – where he shot a 73-75 – 145 – coming close to all-state honors.
The 73 was his low 18-hole round of the year.
“I wanted to win a medal at state, and that didn’t happen,” Rooney said, “but the 73 was my best round, and I’m proud of that. On the second day of state I was in the top nine and had a triple-bogey on the second to last hole – so that ended any chance I had of being all state.
“But it was still a great year. I think missing out on golf my junior year made this year even more special.”
Rooney capped his senior year by winning The Examiner’s top golfing award.
“I’m Golfer of the Year?” Rooney asked, when he was informed of his season-ending honor. “That came out of left field. I never expected it – it’s an unbelievable honor, something that will always be special.”
As will the game he hopes to master long after his Wildcat playing days are over.
“I love the game,” Rooney said. “I’m not going to play at college because I’m going to the University of Colorado to study architecture and interior design, and that’s going to take up a lot of my time.
“I’m looking forward to playing golf with my dad and friends. It’s a sport I grew to love in high school, and I’ll miss playing it (competitively), but I’m looking forward to the challenges that will come with getting my degree at Colorado.”
2021 All-Area Boys Golf
• Charlie Aldred, fresh., Grain Valley — Tie for 66th at Class 4 state tournament (81-94–175); tie for 13th at Class 4 District 4 (85); 2nd at Suburban Middle Six Championships (78).
• Owen Herbert, soph., Grain Valley — Tie for 33rd at Class 4 state tournament (80-80–160); tie for 10th at Class 4 District 4 (84); 3rd at Suburban Middle Six Championships (81).
• Raiden Paniagua, fresh., Blue Springs — Tie for 54th at Class 5 state tournament (79-79–158); tie for 6th at Class 5 District 4 (76); tie for 7th at Suburban Big Eight Championships (82).
• Blake Rooney, sr., Blue Springs — Tie for 24th at Class 5 state tournament (73-75-148); tie for 16th at Class 5 District 4 (82); 6th at Suburban Big Eight Championships (81).
• Aaron Smith, fresh., Oak Grove — Tie for 45th at Class 3 state tournament (87-90–177); 10th at Class 3 District 4 (86); tie for 6th at Missouri River Valley Conference Championships (88).
Blue Springs South: Ryan Wall, soph.; Fort Osage: Mallecki Terrazas, sr.; Grain Valley: Connor Nadeau, jr.; Lee’s Summit North: Liam Frank, sr.; Oak Grove: Dalton Gorham, sr.; St. Michael the Archangel: Adam DiMarco, jr.; Collin Simmons, jr.