Area Male Athlete: S-M's Israelson growing into new role
Andrew Israelson Year: Junior School: Staples-Motley Sport: Golf Highlights: Won Bemidji invite and Mid-State Conference titles Despite what many may think, Andrew Israelson isn't always hitting out of the woods. In fact, the Staples-Motley Cardi...
Highlights: Won Bemidji invite and Mid-State Conference titles
Despite what many may think, Andrew Israelson isn't always hitting out of the woods.
In fact, the Staples-Motley Cardinals junior is capable of going an entire round without having to push away the brush to get to an errant tee shot.
The five-year varsity player hit driver off tee box during the May 4 Bemidji Invite at Bemidji Town and Country. He found fairway each time to finish with a first-place 68.
"Both my parents are from Bemidji and we still have a cabin up there so I'm up there a lot," Israelson said. "This year and last year I'll have a membership there so I play that course quite a bit. I bet I'll play it 30 to 50 times this summer. I know the course really well. They did some renovations to seven of their holes, but I've been playing it since I was 10 years old.
"It was a really nice day out. There wasn't any rain and by the time we finished the round it was probably 60 degrees. I just played my game like usual. I hit driver off every single tee. I was feeling really good with my tee ball there. I also hit some really good wedges.
"I birdied the first hole after I hit it to three feet. Then I birdied the third hole after hitting it to six inches. I birdied six of the first 10 holes and I had one bogey on eight so I was five under after 10 holes. Then I just kept it pretty even before I bogeyed the last hole."
But there is a reason people think Israelson is always playing from the trees, though. A lot of times he is. That doesn't concern Israelson's head coach much.
"Fearless is a word that rings pretty true when you talk about Andrew," said S-M head coach Glen Hasselberg. "When he steps on the course nothing phases him in terms of whether he's hitting the ball well or not. It's still going to be a good outcome. He has a great demeanor in terms of turning something bad into something good. His confidence is running pretty high.
"He is just so capable of hitting every shot. We saw that at Deacon's Lodge (Wednesday). He hits his drive out of bounds. He takes a drop and then proceeds to hit that on the green. He just reminds me so much of his dad (Bill Israelson) when his dad was young. It just seems the deeper he is in trouble or the tougher the shot the more likely he's going to come out of it with something good."
According to Israelson he gets his never-die attitude from his mother whom he described as someone who always sees the bright side of things.
Israelson looked on the bright side after shooting a 5-under-par 139 during the two-day Fergus Falls Invite May 1-2. Despite rounds of 70-69, Class 2A's defending state champion still lost to Chris Swanson of Fergus Falls.
"I'm disappointed when I don't play well," Israelson said. "An example would be the Fergus Falls tournament where I shot 5-under and still lost by two. I wasn't mad. I was surprised. I didn't think anyone would shoot under 5, but I'm not angry when I lose. My dad still gets me a couple of times. I'm sticking it to him most days, but winning is not always the most important thing, especially in high school."
Israelson opened this week by winning the Mid-State Conference title May 11 by shooting a 2-over-par 74 on the Lakes Course at Ruttger's Bay Lake Lodge. He won the title by two strokes. He placed third with a 77 at Wednesday's Deacon's Invite at Deacon's Lodge.
Despite all the accomplishments and medals and despite having a target on his back being a returning state title winner, Israelson has focused on being a leader this season.
"When I first came up, I was playing with Nick Forsberg, Michael Strain and the Hagenson twins, and while they were all different characters, they all could shoot very well," Israelson said. "I know if I play well that it doesn't matter that much. What matters is that I show the younger guys how to play the game with respect and without making fools of themselves. I have to show them how to play golf and not get so upset about things.
"Shooting low scores is one thing, but it's also about being a respectful player."
Israelson is a great player and it's hard to believe he's only a junior. But he, too, is seeing the transformation from being the young guy on the team to being the leader of a young team.
"He's a driver and a leader," Hasselberg said. "He would much prefer to do all of this as a team than as an individual. He's working hard with the younger kids. He's trying to get them to pay attention to the things he does. Just by playing with him you can pick some stuff up.
"He can show you how there are other ways to score when your ball striking is off. He's a real leader in regard to he would rather accomplish something as a team than as an individual."
Other notable performances:
Baseball: Ben Jordan, Crosby-Ironton, struck out 10 to pitch the victory and finished 3-4 with three RBIs and a triple against Hill City.
Justin Olson, Pequot Lakes, went 2-3 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored against Aitkin.
Jeb Sanford, Aitkin, struck out seven to no-hit Rush City. He went 3-3 with a triple, three RBIs and two runs to help his cause.
Golf: Tom Burgstaler, Crosby-Ironton, shot a 78 to win a Mid-Minn Conference tournament at Whitefish Golf Club.
Track and field: Henry Krecklau, Pine River-Backus, won the 200-meter dash and the long and triple jumps at the Northland Conference meet. He won the same three events at the Aitkin Invite.
Johnny Kasper, Pierz, won the 100 dash and high and long jumps in the Section 7-1A True Team meet.
Nick Maslowski, Little Falls, won shot put and discus at the Section 8-2A True Team meet.