PREP BOYS AND GIRLS GOLF: Tiger boys reach state

BUFFALO LAKE – Three strokes were the difference between Marshall and New Ulm as the Tigers slipped past the Eagles 299-302 to win the MSHSL Class 2A Boys Golf Section 3 Tournament championship on Thursday at Oakdale Golf Course.

Marshall, which was ranked third in Class 2A by the Minnesota Golf Coaches Association on Sunday, has not lost any competition it has entered this season. The Tigers were led by Brent Haukom, who shot an even-par 72, and Matt Bennett, who turned in a 1-over 73.

Through Sunday, Haukom and Bennett were ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, among Class 2A individuals. Haukom leads Bennett in stroke average by a slim 74.4-75.0 margin.

“Brent was close to shooting in the 60s again and Matt brought himself back today with a 34 on the last nine,” Marshall boys golf coach Allen Lucht said. “It’s nice to see all of the boys come together and play as a full time.”

Haukom was locked in early, posting four birdies over his first nine holes. Bennett came alive during his last nine holes, when he recorded three birdies.

Overall medalist Kelton Schmitz of New Ulm set the pace after turning in a 2-under 70, but his Eagle teammates couldn’t match the Tigers.

Bennett picked up a stroke for MHS after New Ulm’s Jonah Cooper carded a 74. The Tigers gained four more strokes when Jacob Baker (76) and Alex Buysse (78) defeated Ethan Krause (79) and Peder Johnson (79).

Five of Marshall’s six golfers secured scores under 80 as Matt Christianson had a 79 and Jon Wyffels was not far behind with an 85. New Ulm’s final two scores came from Colin Huffman (81) and Tanner Zupfer (91).

“As season long, we have tried to keep at least five players in the 70s in order to shoot 299 or better. That’s what you have to do at state. If you don’t do that, it becomes very tough to win a state title,” Lucht said. “The kids have rebounded within themselves.”

Josh Pelingo of Litchfield was the runner-up with a 71. Haukom and Brett Buckingham of Minnewaska (72) tied for third overall, while Bennett was fifth in the individual standings. Schmitz, Pelingo and Buckingham all advanced to the state tournament as individuals.

Will Mulder of Worthington needed one playoff hole against Mitch Pfingsten of Fairmont and Jonah Cooper of New Ulm to grab the fourth individual state spot. One hole later, Pfingsten defeated Cooper to become the final individual state qualifier.

Girls

Marshall’s Hanna Peterson and Jessica Blanchard each shot six-over 78s to tie Minnewaska Area’s Ashlyn Guggisberg for third overall and qualify for the state tournament as individuals.

The Lakers defeated the Tigers 326-336 to earn the state meet’s team berth. Marshall’s team score was the second-best the Tigers have posted this season.

“We shot a nice team score, even though a few girls were disappointed in their scores,” MHS girls golf coach Nancy Blanchard said. “Tip your hat to Minnewaka (Area). I would have to think that we made them their best round of the season.”

Kirsten Webskowski and Kami Love rounded out Marshall’s scoring after each had identical 90s. Gabby Pogatchnik added a 96 for the Tigers, while Sarah Vogl recored a 103.

Minnewaska Area’s Jenna Janau posted an even-par 72 to become the medalist, while Kennedy Sommerfield of Litchfield carded a 78 to finish as the runner-up. Two other individual state qualifiers were Emily Kim of Fairmont (80) and Corinne McKeeth of New Ulm (81).

For both Peterson and Jessica Blanchard, this year’s state trip will be the third time to the event.

“It is exciting to be an individual state qualifier, but we really wanted to make it as a team. Minnewaska (Area) played really well and we also shot a good team score,” Peterson said.

Experience goes a long way in playing at the state level.

“I have learned to play under pressure and how to stay calm when playing against other good players,” Peterson said. “At The Ridges at Sand Creek, you have to be hitting the ball really well, especially on the back nine. Your putting has to be precise because the greens are pretty fast and there will be some hard pin placements.”

Jessica Blanchard agreed.

“Having experience helps me not be as nervous with people watching as I play,” Jessica Blanchard said. “To be successful at state, you have to have your chipping and putting under control. The grass will be cut very low on the greens and the pins will be in difficult locations, especially on the second day.”

Coach Blanchard said prior experience should spark both of the Tigers’ individual state qualifiers.

“They have both been this situation before and they play a lot of summer tournament golf. I think that has prepared them mentally and emotionally,” Coach Blanchard said.

The MSHSL Class 2A Boys and Girls Golf State Championships are scheduled to take place June 11-12 at The Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan.

Boys

TEAM STANDINGS: Marshall 299, New Ulm 302, Minnewaska Area 325, Redwood Valley 335.

MARSHALL: Brent Haukom 37-35-72, Matt Bennett 34-39-73, Jacob Baker 42-34-76, Alex Buysse 38-40-78, Matt Christianson 40-39-79, Jon Wyffels 43-42-85.

Girls

TEAM STANDINGS: Minnewaska Area 326, Marshall 336, Jackson County Central 357, Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta 385.

MARSHALL: Hannah Peterson 39-39-78, Jessica Blanchard 42-36-78, Kirsten Webskowski 46-44-90, Kami Love 44-46-90, Gabby Pogatchnik 46-50-96, Sara Vogl 54-49-103