Tigers back on course

MARSHALL – Although Marshall Golf Club has only been open since Saturday, members of the Marshall boys’ and girls’ golf teams played the course as though it were mid-June on Tuesday. Both Tiger teams stormed to victories at MGC with the boys shooting a combined score of 305 and the girls posting a team total of 358 over 18 holes. New Ulm took second in both the boys’ and girls’ competitions, while Murray County Central rounded out the varsity field in third place both times.

“Shooting 305 is a goal that we always have in mind, constantly; 305 or under,” Marshall boys’ golf head coach Allen Lucht said. “Our second round in state last year was 305 and we need to stay at 300 or better. The guys know the goal that they have to meet. They also understand the total picture of the whole thing is that we need five or six players firing to reach those scores.”

Individually, the Tigers also took top honors. Jessica Blanchard carded an 84 to lead all girls, while Marshall teammates Brent Haukom and Matt Bennett were co-medalists with 1-over-par 73s.

Haukom shot a 33 on the front nine but said he missed a few putts on the back half of the course to keep his score from going even lower. Bennett, meanwhile, started his day with a triple bogey on the first hole. Lucht said he was never worried that Bennett wouldn’t recover after a tough start to his round.

“I expected him to come back and I wasn’t surprised at all,” Lucht said. “I expected him to do that because he has that kind of ability.”

The Marshall girls’ team had three other excellent scores to go along with Blanchard’s 84, as their top four scores were the top four on the day. Hanna Peterson was second on the team with an 88, while Ali Pogatchinik and Kirsten Webskowski shot identical 93’s. Marshall’s score of 358 was the team’s lowest total at MGC under current head coach Nancy Blanchard, who credited the improvement with extra time spent golfing during the summer.

Coming into the season Nancy Blanchard knew that she would receive quality scores from Jessica Blanchard and Peterson, who have each qualified individually for the state tournament in the past. In order for the Tigers to have team success in 2013, Marshall would need low rounds from its other golfers and got just that on Tuesday.

“I thought they both played pretty well,” Nancy Blanchard said of Webskowski and Pogatchinik. “I know both of them said that they left some shots out there, as well as Jessica and Hanna did. Golf is never a game where you say ‘I played the best I could possibly play.’ It’s very rare for someone to say that. Four scores under 95 is very good for this team and it makes our team’s score so much lower when you don’t have to count something too high.

“That was as good a round as we’ve played,” Blanchard added. “When we get into conference and sections we’ll need scores like that or even lower. That’s why you play six, so you can drop a couple of scores out and it might be somebody else’s turn next time.”

The Tiger boys’ team, having made appearances in consecutive state tournaments, has understandably high goals for their season. Though the weather has largely prevented the team from practicing on a golf course this spring, Lucht felt his team showed some promising signs in just its second meet of the year.

“We haven’t had enough time, since the conditions have been so severe, to get ourselves ready for all the things we’ve got coming up on us,” Lucht said. “We have two matches this weekend. We have to go play two tough golf courses in cold weather and wind, we’re going to have to really fight for every score that we can get. But we have the capability of playing really well; it’s just a matter of keeping our heads on the same thought and keeping us all together.”

Alex Buysse had the third counting score for Marshall with a 79 and Jacob Baker was fourth for the Tigers with an 80.

The boys’ team is back in competition on Friday, as they will travel to Hutchinson before joining the girls in Fairmont on Saturday.

New Ulm had team scores of 317 on the boys’ side with three players recording scores of 78, while the Eagles girls’ team shot 427. Murray County Central shot 334 for the boys and 430 for the girls. Devin Erickson and Hannah Davis were the low Rebels on the day with scores of 81 and 99 respectively.