BUFFS ROUNDUP: Friday, May 29, 2020
In just two short school years, the always solid Garden City High School girls and boys golf teams enjoyed immense success under the guidance of Trent Specht.
But Specht, recently seeing an expansion of his family, has decided to hang up the coaching and teaching duties, to exchange it for a job in Wichita with Edward Jones Investments. That will mean a move during the summer, with the search for his replacement now under way.
Specht, who played high school golf at nearby Southwestern Heights High School a decade ago, spent just two seasons coaching the Lady Buffs and one season with the boys team due to the canceled 2020 spring season.
The former collegiate golfer, who played two years at Dodge City Community College before finishing his career at Ashford University in 2013, took a circuitous route in arriving at GCHS.
Fresh out of college with a degree in computer science and math, Specht was hired by the Holcomb school district where he taught and coached for four and a half years. His versatility enabled him to coach volleyball, boy’s basketball, girls and boy’s golf and junior high girls basketball there.
When the golf coach position opened at GCHS after the spring 2018 season, Specht was hired to oversee both the Lady Buffs and the Buffs’ boys programs. It was a match made in Buffalo heaven.
While teaching personal finance, geometry and Algebra I, Specht began working with the Lady Buffs in the fall of 2018, guiding them to a pair of Western Athletic Conference titles. Alyssa McMillan was the standout for the Lady Buffs, winning the WAC Player of the Year title both years, placing fifth and then second at the Class 6A state tourneys in helping the girls team to a third-place trophy at the 2019 state tourney.
“I’ve been fortunate to have had some really gifted players, who were dedicated to improving and I enjoyed every minute of working with both the girls and boys,” Specht said recently. “That part I will miss the most.”
The two-year stint with the girls was impressive as the Lady Buffs won 55 of 56 possible matches against the other four WAC schools, and in 2019 also included two others making all-WAC first team and another two receiving honorable mention honors.
“I think one of the most satisfying things for me was to see the improvement in the girls from the first season to the second,” Specht said. “I think it validated what we were doing as coaches (his assistant was Carlos Prieto). They trusted what we were doing and they worked hard. I think they respected that we knew the game and that they were getting better from the knowledge we helped give them.”
It certainly didn’t hurt when looking at Specht’s playing career that he had been successful, giving him more credibility with his high school team members. He had qualified for the Kansas Amateur and placed in the top 10 stroke play qualifying in 2018, won the Garden City Stroke Play Championship in 2013, and was a two-time top 10 finisher at state high school tournaments in Classes 3A and 2A.
In the one season coaching the boys, Specht saw senior Sion Audrain capture his second Class 6A state individual crown (the only boys or girls player to do so in school history), with the boys team garnering a surprising fourth-place team finish with a number of talented underclassmen dotting the roster.
“I think the guys are loaded for next year,” Specht said of the Buffs’ boys squad. “They don’t have a Sion or a Taylor (Larsen), but they have a bunch of good 75 to 77 shooters and if they keep working on it, they’re deep enough and will push each other to be very competitive.”
Specht believes the boys will challenge for trophy consideration (top 3) in the coming seasons.
“They’re going to be in a position where they will re-load the roster and not rebuild,” Specht said of the upcoming few seasons. “They will be competitive for positions on the varsity roster, and many of them have made year-round commitments to playing. They’re playing summer tournaments and that’s encouraging to see. It would be awesome to see them there on the second day (state tourney) competing for a title.”
Specht said he had enjoyed working with the young students in developing math and personal finance skills that will serve them well as they move into the world of business after high school and perhaps college.
“I think it’s so important to teach people about money management,” Specht said. “What I will be doing at Edward Jones just takes that concept to the next level.”
While an official replacement for Specht has not been made yet by GCHS Athletics Director Drew Thon, Specht is hopeful that Prieto, who is the highly successful Buffs’ wrestling head coach, will accept the reins.
“If he takes it, he’s going to do a great job,” said Specht of Prieto, who has guided the Buffs wrestling team to four state team championships. “He’s got the leadership skills and I think he’ll have the girls and boys programs ready to compete at a high level.
“We’re fortunate at Buffalo Dunes, too, to have great pros in Jason Hase and Loran Richmeier to help out with swing instruction as well,” Specht said. “I’m sure I will miss developing those strong relationships with the kids. As a coach, you spend so much more time with them than you do the students in the classroom. You’re with them for two and a half hours during practice, with them on all-day tournament trips and sometimes, you have overnighters where you just get to know them so much better. Stuff like that, you’re going to miss the positive influences on young people.”
Specht said that he also would miss the relationships he has built with fellow teachers, coaches and the greater Garden City and Holcomb communities.
“It’s a great place to live, and the golf courses here are fantastic,” Specht said of Buffalo Dunes and The Golf Club at Southwind. “Not many places have two outstanding courses to develop your game. I think that’s one of the reasons the school has been so good with golf for many years. They’re blessed with great staffs that are always there to help the kids.”