SM East senior Andy Spencer has been racking up high school golf tournament wins for years now, having taken the Sunflower League individual title as a sophomore and again as a junior. That early success earned him the Kenneth Smith Award, the most prestigious honor bestowed on a Kansas City high school golfer, last summer. But it didn’t guarantee him that taking the league title his senior year was going to be easy.
“This was the hardest one yet,” Spencer said Thursday, a day after securing his three-peat with a solid showing at the Lawrence Invitational at Eagle Bend Golf Course. “Blake [Allen] was on my tail the entire time.”
Indeed, Allen, a SM Northwest student, had been nipping at Spencer’s heels through the first two rounds of the Sunflower League competition earlier in the season. But even with Allen edging Spencer by a stroke for the individual win at Lawrence this week, Spencer had enough of a cushion built up to hold on to the individual title by a single stroke.
“It felt really good to get it,” Spencer said of his third title. “It’s something I’ve had in the back of my mind all year.”
Now, Spencer and the Lancers turn their attention to the postseason, where they’ll try to add a 10th team title to the SM East trophy case. Traditionally a golf powerhouse, the Lancers failed to capture the team Sunflower League title this year for the first time since 2006, coming in second behind SM Northwest. While the Lancers have seen a few rough stretches, Spencer thinks the team has the talent to make a run at the title when state play begins at Manhattan Country Club later this month. SM East will be hosting Regionals play, where it hopes to earn a state berth, at Brookridge Country Club on Monday.
“Honestly, I don’t think we’ve peaked yet,” Spencer said of the team. “We haven’t had a round where we’ve put four good scores up on the board.”
Regardless of how the team ends up faring in the coming weeks, Spencer has a busy summer on the links already lined up. He’ll be playing in the Watson Challenge at Mission Hills Country Club the first week of June before hitting the road for three out-of-town tournaments in a row. The goal, he says, is to get ready to make the transition to the college game, where he’ll face some of the best golfers in the country.
Luckily, Spencer will have a familiar face around to show him the ropes when he reports for duty at the University of Kansas in the fall. SM East graduate Chase Hanna, who Spencer got to know well when we was a freshman on the Lancer team, will be entering his senior season for the Jayhawks.
“That’s going to be pretty special for me, the chance to get to play with [Chase],” Spencer said. “He’s been kind of a role model for me, some I’m excited to get to play with him again.”