No matter the weather: Tiger golfers advance to 3AA tournament

TYLER – In spite of wind and rain and cold, the Marshall golf teams played their way to a pair of wins at the 3AA-Southwest sub-section tournament at Tyler Golf Club on Wednesday.

Matt Bennett fired a 1-over 72 in British Open-like conditions to earn medalist honors and lead the Marshall boys to a team total of 303. Jessica Blanchard posted an 84 over 18 holes, also taking medalist honors, while pacing the Tiger girls to a low-round of 358.

One of the goals for the Marshall girls’ team this season was to send the entire team to the Section 3AA finals at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Willmar. The Tigers placed second at the sub-section meet in 2012, but finished 32 strokes clear of Worthington on Wednesday to earn their team ticket to Willmar.

“It was awesome, I thought the girls played very well. Basically, they played to their averages, even under the conditions,” head coach Nancy Blanchard said. “It was rough out there. The cold, wind and rain is kind of tough to play in, but they persevered through it and got the job done. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

After placing fourth at the Southwest Conference meet in Marshall on Monday, Jessica Blanchard was two strokes better in Tyler despite decidedly adverse weather. Her 84 was also two strokes better than 2012 medalist Kate Lesnar, of Worthington, and teammate Hanna Peterson. Lesnar edged Peterson for second by way of a scorecard tiebreaker.

“She had a good day putting,” Nancy Blanchard said of Jessica Blanchard. “I think she had some tough competition. Kate Lesnar from Worthington has been in the top 10 in the state, so for her to win that was awesome.

“Hanna also played well, finishing third,” Blanchard added. “Really, she could have been second, but she lost in a scorecard playoff. I’m very proud of both of those girls.”

Kirsten Webskowski and Allie Pogatchnik each carded 94s on the day to bring Marshall’s team total to 358, while Laura Mitlyng (103) and Mallory Griffin (106) also had strong outings at TGC for the Tigers.

Another goal for the Marshall girls’ team in 2013 is to reach the state meet as a team. Blanchard says that the team will be hard at work over the next week in preparation for the section finals.

“We’re going to play practice rounds when we can,” she said. “We’ll probably bring them all up (to Willmar) on Monday. We’re going to practice up there. We haven’t had a lot of time to practice on the range here, so we’re going to get back to doing some of that and try to convince them that they’re good enough to get to the next level.”

For the Marshall boys’ team, the goal all year has been 305 or better for an 18-hole tournament. After posting a season-low of 297 on Monday, Marshall stayed sharp with a 303. Worthington took second place in the boys’ competition with a 325. Luverne was two shots behind the Trojans in third place, while Pipestone rounded out the field with a score of 369.

Bennett was seven shots off of his breakout performance in Tyler from a season ago, but the junior was three strokes improved from Monday with his 72. Jacob Baker, who was the medalist at the Southwest Conference meet with a 71, carded a 75 on Wednesday. Brent Haukom remained the face of consistency for the Tigers, shooting 75 for the second event in a row.

“Matt started off slow at first, he was fighting his mental attitude a little bit,” Marshall boys’ head coach Allen Lucht said. “Brent stayed steady and has become more of the stable part of the team. Jacob fought back from an OK score on the first nine with a 39 to come back with a 36, which is really good on that side with more wind. They all played well in these conditions. It was bad out there. It was pretty rainy and windy and cold.”

Alex Buysse’s 81 rounded out the team score for the Tigers, though Matt Christianson (86) and Jon Wyffels (84) also competed for the Tigers, who will look to book their third straight trip to the state meet at the section finals on May 30.

“Under the conditions, we fought all the way around,” Lucht said. “It was a good score, a really good score that they shot. If we shoot this or better at sections, we’ll win that and go to state again.

“The boys all know that. I think they all have that in mind and will work on their game, especially wedges and stuff like that this next week before sections,” Lucht added. “We’ll go up and play a practice round to get them set mentally as far as what to do on some holes, and then we’ll go from there and attack that course.”