Blackjack boys take top honors in Minneota

MINNEOTA – There were ideal conditions and a nearly ideal day of golf for the Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks at Countryside Golf Club on Monday. Paced by sophomore Easton Popma’s tournament-low score of 75, the Blackjacks took first place at the 10-team invite hosted by Minneota.

“The conditions were really good. The weather kept on getting nicer as the day went along so we can’t use weather as an excuse, no one can,” said Dawson-Boyd head coach Dave Baldwin. “I think the guys are OK with how they shot, but as I’ve said before, they’re a competitive bunch. When we get in the van I’m sure they’ll talk about all the shots they missed, as will everybody.”

Popma’s 3-over-par 75 over 18 holes was five strokes clear of second-place individual Riley Sigdahl of Lac qui Parle Valley. Monday marked Popma’s second win on the season.

“I saw him about seven holes into the round and he gave me his ‘I’m not playing real well’ look,” Baldwin said. “But he finished strong again. He’s done that many times and it was good to see that today.”

Along with the medalist, Popma, the Blackjacks also placed three other individuals in the top 10, as Dalton Palmer, Spencer Erickson and Christian Thoen each shot an 88. Dawson-Boyd had a team score of 339, 15 strokes better than MACCRAY in second place.

“It’s nice this year because all six of the guys have it in their minds that they can play decently,” Baldwin said. “It takes the pressure off because nobody thinks they have to be great. It’s great to have depth and it’s great to have a bunch of guys who really pull for each other. It seems to help when you go from meet to meet.”

Lac qui Parle Valley finished in third place with a composite score of 362, while RTR was a shot behind at 363. Hunter Burns was the low round for the Knights with an 88.

Nick Simonton took fourth place with an 81 to lead Canby to a fifth-place team finish. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton edged out Lakeview 382 to 383 for sixth place. Minneota took eighth at its home meet, while Lincoln HI was ninth.

For a young Vikings team, Monday saw the return of coach Ralph Hagen, who broke his hip a week before practices began. Hagen has been working with the Vikings as much as he can during practice but had not attended a meet yet this year.

“So many of our golfers are very young, either ninth grade or 10th grade and even some eighth graders. With me not being at practice, it kind of gravels on my nerves,” Hagen said. “I want to be there to build them up. The short year has really hurt the younger golfers. They don’t make up as much ground on the older golfers.”

Though Hagen would prefer if he were able to be more active this season, he was happy with how smoothly the tournament ran on Monday, especially considering the average age of the field and the delayed start to the spring season.

“I thought the tournament went really well, considering there are only seven seniors out of 57 golfers,” Hagen said. “So how to use the tournament scorecards, etc. etc., just a lot of things went well today.”