Eagles narrowly advance to state
MARSHALL -- On a windy day when balls were flying in all directions, it all came down to a single stroke.
In the end, it was the Windom Eagles who managed to keep their composure to card a winning score of 319 -- edging Springfield/Comfrey and Westbrook-Walnut Grove (320 each) by a stroke Friday at the Section 3A golf meet at the Marshall Country Club to secure a state tournament berth.
"It's exciting to go to state as a team rather than an individual." Windom senior Jordan Stahl said. "The team victory is kind of crazy considering of all the little things that happened for one stroke. A kid from Springfield had a ball get stuck in a tree. He had to drop out of that, so there's one stroke right there."
Stahl and teammate Hunter Johnson each shot a 76 on the day to lead the Eagles to victory.
"I started off slow on both the front and back nine, but I made eagle on a par five in the back to help my score," Johnson said. "I usually like to throw my wedge shots up a little higher, but with the wind, I had to punch it low to keep it out of the wind.
"Last year, I lost in a playoff at sub-section, so I didn't even get to come here," Johnson continued. "I'm really happy to have made it here and really excited to be going to state."
Behind Stahl and Johnson, Jared Heger turned in a round of 83.
"I hit a double on the first hole and thought that would be my worst score of the day on a hole; then, I tripled," Heger said. "But I had four birdies, so that saved me.
"The Springfield kid I was playing with was beating me by six strokes with six holes left," Heger added. "We ended up tied, so that was kind of a personal victory."
Windom eighth-grader Adam Eisenmenger rounded out the Eagles' team score with an 84 to help Windom slip past S/C and W-WG.
"It's pretty big, going to state" Eisenmenger said. "My drives were hitting the greens in regulation, but I missed some of short putts, which hurt me."
While Tate Lindvall and Jordan Higley didn't figure into the final team score, each shot well on the day. If the Eagles hadn't won the event with their top four scores, Lindvall and Higley were solid enough to have given Windom the victory over S/C and W-WG with their fifth and sixth scores.
"I hit about three greens all day, and I didn't putt very well," Lindvall said. "Stahl has been to state before, but we haven't, so that's pretty cool."
"I couldn't really putt at all today," Higley added. "I hit the greens all right, but just couldn't sink much. I was just trying to beat the kids I was playing with and not worry everything else. I didn't think we were going to win there for a while, but we pulled it out."
W-WG Derek Eichner carded a 75 on the day and earned a state tournament berth as the second-place individual participant.
"It started off a little tough with the driver; the first two holes I sliced," Eichner said. "But I came around with pars on those holes and then got a birdie on No. 3, and that lifted me up. Every iron shot was perfect, 10 feet and under.
"The last two years, I barely missed going to state," Eichner added. "I'm really happy that I made it this year, and it should be a great experience."
Posting a round of 79, Red Rock Central's Blake Walker also garnered a place in the state tournament. Walker and three other players, including W-WG's Austin Quade, had to decide the final spot in the tournament with a playoff. Walker, along with Wabasso's Drew Jenniges and S/C's Mitchell Johnson advanced out of the playoff, while Quade was left to ponder what could have been.
"My drives really helped me today; I hit a lot of fairways and I was chipping to within about five feet of the cup," Walker said. "On No. 17, I hit a good second shot, but I thought the wind would take it a little more, and it rolled into the bunker. I ended up doubling, but that was my only double of the day. Otherwise, everything was solid."
RRC teammate Chris Miller narrowly missed the tournament, carding an 80, while Matt Fox shot an 87.
W-WG's Jared Lindaman and Patrick Schweim shot 82 and 84, respectively, while teammates Brandon Jenniges and Taylor Lindaman each carded an 89 on the day.
The Southwest Christian Eagles' Philip Feikema and Kaiser DeKam shot rounds of 84 and 90, respectively, while Southwest Star Concepts' Brady Hall and Cory Pelzel shot 84 and 88.
Hills-Beaver Creek's Caleb Ellingson turned in an 89 in Marshall.
The state tournament is slated for June 3-6 at the Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker.