Hull hopes Butler magic carries over to BSHS golf
Bonner Springs coach embraces look-alike, hopes similar success will follow for Braves
Ryan Hull chuckles in amusement when he hears yet another comment about his “twin brother” Brad Stevens.
“Why’d you make that substitution, coach?” Hull reads in a text message. “Good game last night, coach Stevens,” others tell him.
Yes, Hull — Bonner Springs High School’s second-year boys golf coach — bears a striking resemblance to Stevens, Butler University’s basketball coach. Stevens guided the underdog Bulldogs to back-to-back runner-up finishes in the NCAA Tournament, so Hull takes any comparisons as a compliment.
At the same time, Hull hopes a bit of the Butler magic carries over to his BSHS golfers.
“I don’t know if necessarily I will be able to encapsulate the Brad Stevens mystique,” Hull said. “It’s not the first time that association’s been made, but if our guys can end up playing like Butler, we’re going to be able to do some stuff.”
Much like Stevens believed his BU basketball team was more talented than critics wanted to believe, Hull sees a world of potential for his golfers. In fact, the Braves already are showing it.
After a strong showing in the snow during the season-opening Sunflower Invitational, the Braves took another step forward Thursday, March 31, with a second-place finish at the Bonner Springs Invitational at Sunflower Hills.
Ottawa won the team title at the nine-hole tournament with a four-player score of 175 and had the individual champion in Clinton Moore who shot a 39. Bonner Springs was second with a 178 and had three individual medalists. Marc McClain took second overall with a 41, Jonothan Price was fifth with a 43 and Logan Opat finished sixth with a 46.
As a team, BSHS was strong. Jason VanMaren fired a 48 and narrowly missed medaling. Jacob Laing shot a 50 and Ethan Hook had a 61.
Hull said the Braves were pleased with their performance overall, but they weren’t content. That’s what impressed Hull the most.
“Our guys aren’t really satisfied,” he said. “They’re looking at it and saying, ‘I can do better here or there.’ It’s really encouraging that they recognize that you can always improve, but at the same time they were giving each other five. They felt good about capitalizing and actually getting medals. That’s a good starting point to a season.”
Bonner Springs has a consistent top three so far in McClain, a freshman, and seniors Price and Opat. All three continue to pursue lower scores. Meanwhile, the other Braves are battling to provide the team a strong fourth score. Included in that mix is junior Caleb Kivett who Hull said is right in the mix with Hook, a junior, VanMaren, a sophomore, and Laing, a freshman.
Hull credits his players with investing more time into practice to get better. Unlike recent years where BSHS had one or two individuals who could contend for medals but not enough depth to battle in the team standings, this year’s Braves expect more.
“Last year it was one or none,” Hull said. “We’re coming into this year and in our first tournament two guys medaled, and at this tournament we have three. That’s a different spot for everyone.
“And it’s contagious. The funny thing is when you look at the other guys who are playing in these tournaments as the number four, five and six (golfers), they’re looking at it and they want to be better. It’s no longer an ‘I’m out golfing for free’ concept, it’s ‘I’m out here and I want to contribute to the team.”
Basehor-Linwood also competed at the Bonner Springs Invitational, although the Bobcats took a limited roster of just four players. BLHS placed sixth as a team with a score of 248. Brady Blackwood led the way with a 55, Hayden Morris shot a 57, and Gage Zumbrunn and Jake McCraney each shot 68.