Class AA golf: Bennett ties for 8th

JORDAN – Between three and four inches of rain washed over Ridges at Sand Creek golf course in Jordan Wednesday morning, mucking up the second day of the Class AA state golf tournament and washing out pre-planned tee times.

As the hours progressed and the skies refused to clear, it was uncertain for a time whether or not the second day of competition would actually take place. But more than five hours after play was scheduled to begin, players were finally able to take the course for a final day of competition that was shortened to nine holes, with the boys playing the front nine and the girls playing the back.

Some golfers handled the lengthy delay in stride, while others weren’t able to find their groove on the waterlogged course. Sitting in fourth place after the opening round, the Marshall boys didn’t have enough holes or enough low scores Wednesday to make up the 17-stroke difference between them and opening-round leader Staples-Motley. The Cardinals claimed the team title with a two-day, 27-hole team total of 443 to defeat two-time defending champion Detroit Lakes by seven strokes. Marshall shot a 158 Wednesday for a tournament total of 469 to fall back to sixth place.

Playing golf after playing the waiting game wasn’t easy for the Tigers, who weren’t at their best Wednesday.

“It’s rough to try to sit back and relax, but that’s all you can do,” Marshall boys’ head coach Allen Lucht said. “It all depends on who comes out of there with guns blazing after that long of a wait.

“Handling that situation isn’t easy for anybody, let alone the pressure that builds on you. Like Matt (Bennett) was really close to the lead and the delay gave him more time to think about it. That’s not really fair, but in a way it is fair because everyone had to deal with it.”

Bennett was in a tie for second place after shooting a 1-under 71 on Tuesday. His ball striking was off Wednesday and he came in with a 4-over 40 for a two-day score of 111. He still was able to grab a medal, however, as he finished in a five-way tie for eighth place.

“I think waiting for seven hours before we started probably wasn’t the best, but you can’t really do anything about it, everyone had to wait,” Bennett said. “I just didn’t have it today. I tried to grind it out the best I could but it just wasn’t there.”

Brent Haukom and Jacob Baker both led the Tigers with 39s Wednesday. Haukom finished in a tie for 29th with a 117, while Baker tied for 38th with a 119. After struggling in his first round, sophomore Jon Wyffels chipped in a 40 for the Tigers Wednesday.

Baker and Wyffels were both making their first trip to state playing for a team that has now made it to Jordan three straight years. Baker said he learned a lot about the course and about how to handle himself on the big stage.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “I learned not to get into trouble a lot because one shot can get you into a lot of trouble out here. I played pretty well other than a couple of shots that really hurt me. I didn’t putt the best either, but I learned and will be ready for next year hopefully.”

Marshall’s Matt Christianson finished the tournament with a score of 126 and Alex Buysse shot a 128.

Golfing as an individual, Delano senior Jordan Peters claimed medalist honors with a 2-under score of 104. Waseca’s Josh Kummerfeldt was two strokes back in second. Team champion Staples-Motley’s top score came from Mitch Hagenson, who was third with a 108.

Returning all of their players next season, the Marshall boys hope to be able to build on their sixth-place finish and challenge for the top spot.

“It was good for the first-timers, they definitely learned a lot,” Bennett said. “Hopefully we can come back next year and do even better.”

Added Baker, “Hopefully we can contend to win next year. It should be fun.”

In the girls’ tournament, Marshall’s two competitors didn’t have to deal with quite the delay as the Tiger boys since they were originally scheduled to tee off in the early afternoon anyway.

Hanna Peterson was looking to build off the momentum she gathered while shooting a 2-over 74 on Tuesday, which was her best 18-hole score ever by five strokes. She didn’t catch fire on Wednesday like she did on Day 1, but still managed to finish in a tie for 10th after firing a 44 on the second day of action.

“I was playing well and then I doubled the last hole, so that was kind of disappointing, but other than that I was satisfied with the tournament overall,” Peterson said.

Sitting in third place entering Wednesday, Peterson tried not to let herself think about her position on the leaderboard during the weather delay while spending time with teammate Jessica Blanchard.

“Me and Jessica took a nap and then we sat there and listened to music for a while,” Peterson said. “We tried not to think about the round too much just so we didn’t get psyched out about it.”

Like Peterson, Blanchard also had a memorable moment on Tuesday when she hit a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th. The weather and the course conditions were probably the most memorable part of her round Wednesday. The heavy rains turned green-side bunkers into green-side ponds, and newly-formed creeks flowed through fairways as the course tried to drain itself throughout the afternoon.

Blanchard said the conditions lengthened the course a great deal.

“You didn’t get any roll at all and there was a lot of standing water,” said Blanchard, who finished with a 43 on Wednesday and had a two-day total of 131. “I had to take a couple of drops to get relief from standing water. It was harder just because the ball didn’t roll very far.”

This week marked the second trip to state for both Blanchard and Peterson. The pair has worked to become a strong core for the Marshall girls’ golf team and saw great improvement during their sophomore year.

“I’m happy with how the season went. I improved a lot over last summer and throughout this year, and I hope I can continue to improve,” Blanchard said.

Class AA State Tournament

Boys’ Team Scores: 1. Staples-Motley 443, 2. Detroit Lakes 450, 3. Litchfield 454, 4. Hermantown 464, 5. Blake 467, 6. Marshall 469, 7. Rochester Lourdes 481, 8. New Ulm 487.

Top 10 Individuals: 1. Jordan Peters (Delano) 69-35 104, 2. Josh Kummerfeldt (Waseca) 72-34 106; 3. Mitch Hagenson (Staples-Motley) 72-36 104, t4. Josh Becks (Hermantown) 74-35 109, t4. Aaron Leintz (Bagley) 72-37 109, t4. Andrew Israelson (Staples-Motley) 71-38 109, 7. Karter Smith (Detroit Lakes) 74-36 110, t8. Matt Bennett (Marshall) 71-40 111, t8. Jacob Boe (Byron) 75-36 111, t8. Trent Hagenson (Staples-Motley) 74-37 111, t8. Lucas McCormick (Breck) 72-39 111, t8. Josh Polingo (Litchfield) 75-36 111.

Marshall Individual Scores: t8. Matt Bennett 71-40 111, t29. Brent Haukom 78-39 117, t38. Jacob Baker 80-39 119, t75. Matt Christianson 83-43 126, t80. Alex Buysse 82-46 128, t83. Jon Wyffels 91-40 131.

Girls’ Team Scores: 1. Detroit Lakes 448, 2. Minnewaska 479, 3. Pequot Lakes 484, 4. Lake City 510, 5. Providence Academy 525, 6. Visitation 536, 7. Hibbing 568, 8. Fairmont 588.

Top 10 Individuals: t1. Natalie Roth (Detroit Lakes) 70-38 108, t1. Kate Smith (Detroit Lakes) 72-36 108, 3. Savannah Stone (Pequot Lakes 76-35 111, 4. Alexis Guggisberg (Minnewaska) 77-35 112, t5. Maggie Heggerston (Pequot Lakes) 75-38 113, t5. Jenna Janu (Minnewaska) 76-37 113, t7. Trisha Hutchinson (Detroit Lakes) 77-37 114, t7. Emma Groom (St. Croix Lutheran) 81-33 114, t7. Anni Heck (Visitation) 77-37 114, t10. Hanna Peterson (Marshall) 74-44 118, t10. Sydney Busker (Detroit Lakes) 78-40 118.

Marshall Individual Scores: t10. Hanna Peterson 74-44 118, t36. Jessica Blanchard 88-43 131.