By Cole Deutschendorf
When you get down to it, winning is the main objective of sports. Winning is all that the Hutchinson Community College golf team has done over the last two seasons, and they continued that tradition on Monday and Tuesday.
For the third year in a row, HutchCC finished as Region 6 champion, finishing second overall in District 3, seven strokes behind Iowa Western.
The Blue Dragons were led, in part, by sophomores Harry Crockett and Ben Partridge. Crockett, specifically, capped off a strong season with a first place finish in both Region 6 and in District 3.
Crockett, who also won a district title in 2021, became the first Blue Dragon to ever claim back-to-back district titles.
“It’s very special for me. Obviously it was nice to win last year, but for me to be able to come back and do it again proves to myself that I’m still getting better, I’m still improving,” Crockett said.
The Blue Dragons came into the preseason ranked No. 1 nationally coming off of their NJCAA championship winning season last year. Therefore, there were a lot of eyes on the Blue Dragons in the beginning of the season.
“You would think that coming off of a national championship, the next year would be all rainbows and butterflies, but I’ve found that that’s not the case at all,” coach Chris Young said. “But we’re trying to peak at the right time, and hopefully we have it going in the right direction.”
After a slow start to the season as a team, the Blue Dragons showed why they had garnered national attention, winning the Jayhawk Conference championship.
It was leadership displayed by Crockett and Partridge that helped the Blue Dragons throughout the season.
“(Their leadership) is very important,” Young said. “The key for any coach is finding kids that want to be led … and Ben and Harry have helped lead those kids.”
Despite some of the outside pressure and increasing expectations for the team, Crockett and Partridge have remained steady.
“I would say that the pressure has not gotten to (Crockett and Partridge). They’ve been as successful up to this point as they were last year,” Young said. “I don’t see the pressure getting to them at all.”
Despite previous success, the Blue Dragons are focused on creating their own history.
“I’m just going out there thinking about how I can play the best golf that I can,” Crockett said. “Obviously, we had some success last year, and I want to win, the whole team wants to win. But there isn’t any extra pressure.”
And that’s the mindset that HutchCC will take to the Odessa Country Club in Odessa, Texas, as they seek to repeat as national champions.
Crockett put it simply, “We got our jobs to do, and we need to go out there and do it.”