Tigers finish runner up at State Tourney

JORDAN – After not playing up to their potential on Day 1, the Marshall Tigers rebounded to secure a second-place finish at the 2014 Boys State Golf Tournament Wednesday.

The top four Marshall golfers came in under 80 with Matt Bennett’s 72 being the lowest score of the day.

Alex Buysse contributed a career-best 74 to the total, while Jacob Baker shot a 75 and Brent Haukom finished with a 77 to combine for the team’s Day 2 total of 298.

Jon Wyffels finished the day with an 85 to go with a 91 from Matt Christianson.

Marshall coach Allen Lucht was proud of the way his team fought back.

“We finished strong and that was really fun to see,” Lucht said. “Alex Buysse turned in a career round. He’s a kid that has always doubted himself. As far as golf is concerned, he won’t doubt himself again after today.”

Marshall was in fourth as a team coming into Day 2 and was 14 strokes off the lead after a tough first day.

This has become habitual of the Marshall boys golf team in recent years, as the team finished in second place three years ago and followed that with a fourth-place finish in 2012 and a fifth-place performance last season.

The fact that they had to fight back again on Day 2 created some mixed emotions.

“It’s a little bit of both,” Buysse said. “We’re glad that we came back and finished as runner-up, but we’re still a little frustrated with ourselves for digging so deep of a hole the first day.”

While the top four scores are the ones that count toward a team total, it takes every member to keep a team in contention.

Bennett, who will go on to play golf at North Dakota State in the fall, felt everyone contributed.

“This was a great team effort,” Bennett said. “We really played well and fought back to get to where we are.”

The Tigers couldn’t quite catch Providence Academy, who finished with a 602.

Lucht retiring

Marshall coach Allen Lucht has decided to retire after six seasons at the helm of the Marshall boys golf program.

“I’ve worked real hard to keep these boys in line,” Lucht said. “I’ve had a lot of fun working with them since they were real little and watching them turn into great golfers and great people.”

Lucht was the longtime golf pro at Marshall Golf Club and has worked with the boys golf team since they were children.

Buysse and Bennett, two of Marshall’s six seniors, have fond memories of playing with Lucht.

Lucht helped Buysse turn things around on the back nine on Day 2 after a rough start.

“He really helped me through the back nine and was with me every step of the way,” Buysse said. “Allen has become one of my best friends. He’s fun to be around. He’s really big teddy bear and a kid at heart.”

Bennett knows that he will have to adjust to not playing under Lucht next season at NDSU. At this point, Lucht is like family to him.

“He’s basically my Grandpa,” Bennett said. “Not playing for him is something I don’t really want to think about. It’s going to be weird. There’s no one I’d rather play for.”

Class AA Girls

Hannah Peterson and Jessica Blanchard finished off their final round of the 2014 Class AA State Golf Tournament Wednesday.

Peterson duplicated her Day 1 efforts with another round of 80 to finish tied for 16th at 160. Blanchard improved her Day 1 score by one stroke on Wednesday to finish in a tie for 22nd at 167.

While the duo came just short of both finishing in the top 20, they each saw improvements in their games.

“I hit the ball the best I have all season,” Blanchard said. “I still struggled with my putts. The pin placements were really tricky this year.”

This was the pair’s third trip to the state tournament and coach Nancy Blanchard said she could tell the difference from their past trips.

Strength and distance were key.

“They’re learning to hit the ball well enough to compete,” Blanchard said. “Before, when they were up here, they weren’t able to hit the ball far enough to compete up here. Now they know they can compete with this talent.”

The talent at the state level is hard to ignore when one looks at the top of the leaderboard.

Detroit Lakes is continuing to dominate on the big stage, winning the team tournament by nearly 60 strokes and being the only team to break 600 as a team.

Both Blanchard and Peterson are juniors, so they have a chance to come back next season. It is a trip they don’t plan on making by themselves.

“Our goal next year is to get back here as a team,” Blanchard said. “It feels kind of weird when you’re out there and you look around for them and they’re not there.”

With each new trip comes new lessons to take back with them and it is another year of state tournament experience under their belts.

“It’s good to play with a lot of people watching you,” Peterson said. “There are a lot of good players up here and it’s good to get that experience.”

Playing with a lot of people watching is something that may only happen at state golf. Playing with anyone watching was something that the Tigers had gone awhile without.

Nancy Blanchard felt there might have been a small rust factor involved.

“Before the state tournament, the girls hadn’t played competitive golf in 12 days,” Blanchard said. “That’s a long break compared to how often you play during the season.”

While having talent and playing consistently are important, luck is another factor in play at the state level. Luck wasn’t with the Tigers this time around.

“It just wasn’t their week,” Nancy Blanchard said. “There is a lot of good talent up here and sometimes you have to get a little bit lucky. This just wasn’t their week to shoot their best scores. Some things were just a little off.”