At the top of their game: Tigers win SWC golf titles

MARSHALL – The Marshall boys’ and girls’ golf teams beat the rain, as well as the rest of the Southwest Conference on Monday at Marshall Golf Club. Jacob Baker took medalist honors for the Marshall boys, while Hanna Peterson was second overall on the girls’ side to lead the Tigers to a sweep of the Southwest Conference Golf Championships.

Baker fired a 1-under 71 to lead the Tigers to a season-low total of 297 and was named to the all-conference team.

“It was really a pleasure to see Jacob Baker play to the ability that he can play,” said Marshall boys’ head coach Allen Lucht. “It’ll give him more confidence. I knew Jacob was playing well, but I didn’t know he was playing that well. He’s going to develop into a really nice player.”

Four other Tigers shot in the 70s for the boys’ team, with the Tigers claiming five of the six all-conference spots. Marshall’s 297 was 34 strokes clear of second-place Redwood Valley. Lucht said it is a score that Marshall will need to have the rest of the season if the Tigers are to reach their goals.

“The 297 is what we need to do from here on out, right in that area,” Lucht said. “There won’t be as much pressure on us in the sub-sections, but in the sections and state that’s the kind of score we need to see and the boys know that.”

Matt Bennett and Brent Haukom each shot 75 for the Tigers, while Bennett edged Haukom in a two-hole playoff for second place overall. Teammate Alex Buysse turned in a 76 for fourth place overall, while Matt Christianson came in sixth with a 77 (which did not count towards Marshall’s team total). Only Jon Wyffels missed out on the 70s, carding an 81 over 18 holes.

“(Bennett and Haukom) were playing better than their scores were,” Lucht said. “They struggled on the back nine. Brent missed some short putts and Matt got in trouble hitting it too far.

“Alex Buysse stayed steady today and played well, the front nine gave him some trouble, which I was surprised at,” Lucht added. “Then once again Matt Christianson, when it comes down to brass knuckles, he does really good. We just need Jon (Wyffels) to pitch in there.”

Adam Hengel shot a 77 for Redwood Valley to round out the all-conference scores for the boys’ meet.

For the second meet in a row, Hanna Peterson had the low round for the Marshall girls.

“She’s starting to play really well. I’m very excited for her,” Marshall girls’ head coach Nancy Blanchard said. “We need four scores and we need them low and she came through today. It was really good to get something that low, especially heading into tournament time.”

Peterson’s 81 was second best in the conference, but helped the Tigers to a team total of 350 and a conference championship. Jackson County Central shot 372 as a team to take second place, just three shots better than conference standings leader Windom Area. Megan Will, of Windom, picked up medalist honors with a 18-hole score of 80.

Jessica Blanchard was fourth overall, following a playoff, and second on the Tigers’ team with an 86. Nancy Blanchard said that the dense rough at MGC took its toll on Jessica Blanchard’s score later in her round.

“She actually started out really well and it just seemed to leak on the back nine,” Nancy Blanchard said. “She said she hit some in the rough and the rough was really thick and hard today; it didn’t take much, just off a little bit. She missed a few putts and that’s been her nemesis the last couple of rounds, hopefully she’ll get that straightened out for Wednesday.”

Kirsten Webskowski and Allie Pogatchnik carded scores of 92 and 91, respectively, to round on the team total for the Tigers. Laura Mitlyng (103) and Mallory Griffin (104) also hit the links for Marshall on Monday.

With the sub-section meet set for Wednesday in Tyler, Blanchard said that Monday’s win gave her team an extra boost of confidence heading into the postseason.

“I would think that they feel pretty confident. They’re obviously hitting the ball well and playing well,” she said. “They’re starting to feel like they can score.

“It used to be that 90 was a really good score and now they’re getting closer,” Blanchard added. “Kirsten, I thought, wanted a couple holes back. They’re starting to feel confident. You don’t want to be overconfident, but I think they’re swinging well and kind of coming into their own, which is good to see.”

Both Marshall teams will tee off at 9 a.m. at Tyler Golf Club on Wednesday. The Section 3AA finals are scheduled for May 30 at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Willmar.