PREP GOLF: WHS’s Lesnar, JCC’s Benson headed back to state golf tournamentWILMAR — Fast greens, bright skies, and the best area golfers were all seen in action yesterday at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Willmar. The 18-hole course hosted the Section 3AA boys and girls golf tournament Thursday.
By: Thomas Elness, Worthington Daily Globe
WILMAR — Fast greens, bright skies, and the best area golfers were all seen in action yesterday at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Willmar. The 18-hole course hosted the Section 3AA boys and girls golf tournament Thursday.
Tournament participants included the top team from four sub-sections. In addition to the team qualifiers, the top individuals not qualifying with their team advanced into the section tournament. Twenty-six boys and twenty-six girls earned a trip to the state-qualifying round individually.
At the section tournament the first place team advances to the state tournament, as well as the top five individuals.
With a 19-over par team score of 309, the Marshall Tigers advanced as the team champions from 3AA on the boys’ side of the tournament.
“The boys held together and they had the experience,” Marshall coach Allen Lucht said.
The Tigers earned a state tournament berth at last year’s meet and will bring back four players from last year’s squad.
One of the four returning players is Max Deutz, the defending state champion. Deutz, a senior, shot a 77 for the Tigers in the section tournament; however, he was not the low score on the team. Matt Bennett and Marcus Holmberg fired rounds of 76. Alex Buysse added the final scoring round of 78.
In the girls’ hemisphere, Minnewaska ran away with the title, winning the section tournament with a 332.
Jackson County Central was the closest team to the Lakers; nonetheless, they were still 56 strokes behind with a 388. Alexis Guggisburg led Minnewaska with a 5-over-par 77, earning her medalist honors for the day.
After the two teams were determined, the individual state tournament berths had to be decided.
Sam Peterson of Benson, was the boys’ medalist with a 72. Redwood Falls carded a 74 from Adam Hengel, low enough for a state tournament appearance. A round of 75 qualified Phillip Ward of Montevideo, leaving two unclaimed spots.
A four-way tie for the final two positions was shared by JCC’s Joe Brinkman, Luverne’s Dylan Skattum, and New London-Spicer’s Joey Dreier and Reid Johnson. In the playoff, Dreier and Johnson advanced past Brinkman and Skattum.
“He played smart,” JCC coach Mike Dibrito said. “He kept the ball in the fairway, which was huge. I told him he has to place shot, [he] can’t just hit driver all the time.”
Unfortunately for Brinkman, by coming up short in the playoff he will not be competing in this year’s state tournament, but has three more years to try and make the trip. Luverne’s Dylan Skattum, a senior, will not have another shot at the state tournament, but made a strong effort in yesterday’s tournament.
“Dylan played really well all day. He had a six bogeys and one birdie,” Luverne’s boys coach John Sichmeller said. “He stayed patient with everything and shot a good score.
“Brandon [Klein] played really well. He got into the sand trap on hole seven and took four shots to get out of the bunker and took a nine.”
Klein, a senior, shot a 79 and missed a playoff by two strokes.
Redwood Valley was the only Southwest Conference school advancing an individual boy to state. Adam Hengel, a sophomore, will compete for a state title.
“Adam Hengel is a gamer,” Redwood Valley assistant coach Dave Madson said. “He deserves to keep playing. He’ll play probably twenty times between now and the state tournament.”
Southwest Conference players were more successful individually in the girls’ half of the tournament. Kaylee Benson, of JCC, advanced to the state tournament with a round of 84. Benson has been recovering from a torn ACL attained during the volleyball season.
“She’s been struggling a little bit all year,” her brother and assistant coach Brett Benson said. “But coming into today she knew she just wanted to be in the top five. You can’t win the state tournament today. You could shoot 59 today and not win the state tournament.”
The knee injury has had obvious physical restraints, but to Brett the mental obstruction has been the most difficult to overcome.
“It’s more of a hesitation to get through the ball,” Brett Benson said. “We’re working through it. She’s so used to hitting a pitching wedge 110 yards and now she’s hitting it 100 yards.”
Brett won the Class A state tournament as a junior and finished third his senior year. He recalled the tournament,
“It’s a ball. There’s nothing better,” Brett Benson said. “You get to compete against the highest level Minnesota has to offer.”
Another golfer going back to the state tournament is Kate Lesnar of Worthington. The junior qualified with an 86, despite some trouble on the greens.
“[Putting] was difficult right up to the 18th hole,” WHS coach Ron Wood said. “If you stayed below the hole you were going to be in great shape. If you were above the hole, everybody struggled right to the end.”
Chloe Altmann, of BOLD, shot the low round of an individual competitor with an 83. Hanna Peterson kept the Southwest Conference performance up with a 90, making the cut for state. Jen Kack, of Lac qui Parle Valley finished with an identical “bogey-golf” round of 90.
One missing fixture to this year’s state tournament will be Windom boys’ and girls’ head coach Dave Eyberg. He has coached the Eagles for twenty seasons and this is the first he will not have a team and/or player competing in the state tournament.
“It’s really tough,” Eyberg said. “It’s not that I didn’t have the players to go this year. Getting bumped into [class] AA makes a difference. I feel bad, especially for Megan [Will] and Adam [Eisenmenger] who were very close and just couldn’t get the job done today.”
The Class AA state boys’ and girls’ golf tournament will be played June 12-13 at Ridges at Sand Creek Golf Club in Jordan. The par 72, 18-hole course was named “2009 Golf Course of the Year” by the Midwest Golf Course Owners Association.