Area Boys Golf: Neva leads Pequot to team title. PR-B's Raph grabs share of individual honor
EAST GULL LAKE—Henry Neva did it for his team.
Brady Raph did it to right the ship.
Neva and Raph each shot 1-over 73s for co-medalist honors Monday, May 20, in the Mid-Minn Conference finale at Cragun's Legacy Courses.
Neva had no chance of making the all-conference team because he didn't have enough rounds played to qualify. That didn't deter the Pequot Lakes junior from dominating the back nine of the Dutch Legacy to lead the Patriots to Monday's team title as well as its third-straight conference championship.
Neva opened with a front-nine 39, including three bogeys and six pars. It was on the back nine that he found his groove. After a bogey four on the par 3, 12th hole, Neva eagled No. 13 thanks to an approach shot that landed 3 feet away. He birdied No. 18 for his 2-under 34.
"I played really well and I kept it together," Neva said. "I made bogey on 12 and then made eagle on 13 so that really helped. Then I just really kept it together and kept hitting the fairway.
"My tee ball was really good. I was hitting a lot of fairways. My wedges were helping out a lot, too. The course was set up a little shorter so that helped."
Neva's 73 helped Pequot slow down the hard-charging Crosby-Ironton Rangers. The Patriots finished with a five-person score of 400, while C-I, which entered Monday's meet just two points off the conference lead, shot a 409.
"I was going to miss all-conference just because I missed two of the conference meets, but I really wanted to help the team," Neva said. "We were within three strokes of C-I so I knew I needed to beat Casey Finnerty. We were tied with about four holes left so I knew I really needed to keep it together."
Pine River-Backus senior Brady Raph shot an even-par 36 on the front and despite a birdie on No. 18 shot a 1-over 37 on the back nine for his 73.
Raph, one of the state's top golfers, has struggled this season by his standards. He still finished second in the overall conference standings, but admitted he was expecting better things from himself this season.
"My season has been disappointing so far," Raph said. "Our last meet was last Wednesday and I shot an 81. I had four practice days. So last night I was up at like 11 at night and I just told myself to go out there and just play good golf. I did that.
"I went out there with like a nothing-to-lose mentality. I was going 100 percent on every swing. I was just swinging as hard as I could really."
Raph said the course was in good shape. The weekend's rainfall made the greens receptive he said.
"Right off the bat it just felt good," he said. "I birdied the first hole and I just felt like I was going to be able to score out here knowing the course was playing pretty short."
Monday's 73 should get him ready for the Section 6-1A tournament May 29-30 in Perham. Raph is the defending section champion and wants to hold that title for another year.
"I know I've won the section before and I just need to go out there and prove it again," Raph said. "I don't want to sound overconfident, but making it to state isn't the goal. My goal is to go to state and prove myself. I feel like I'm good enough to make a statement out there."
Staples-Motley's Beck Erholtz struggled Monday with an 82, but still captured the conference individual title. The sophomore had a commanding lead entering the event, but putting issues kept him from finding a rhythm. Erholtz did birdie the par 3 fourth hole as well as the par 5 seventh.
One Erholtz who didn't struggle was older brother Finn. The Cardinal senior fired an even-par back nine for a 76, which handed him the final all-conference spot and helped Staples-Motley to fourth.
The only player to shoot in the 70s for each of the six conference events was Pequot freshman Tyler Seeling. He shot a 77 Monday with a birdie on the second hole and birdies on 10 and 13. A birdie on the par 3, 15th hole had Seeling 1-under with three holes to go, but the 16th hole grabbed four strokes back.
Aitkin's Sam Sadlowsky also shot 77 Monday and finished fourth in the final individual standings. He was followed by the Ranger twin tandem of Colten and Cayden Turk.
Colten Turk and Finnerty each shot 78s followed by Cayden Turk's 80 and Joe Stokman's 81.
For more photos of the Mid Minnesota Golf Tournament at Craguns' Legacy Courses, go to https://bit.ly/2EmSfPJ.
Team scores: 1-Pequot Lakes 400, 2-Crosby-Ironton 409, 3-Pine River-Backus 426, 4-Staples-Motley 436, 5-Aitkin 549, 6-Wadena-Deer Creek inc.
Individual medalist: Brady Raph (PRB) 73, Henry Neva (PL) 73
Aitkin results: Sam Sadlowsky 77, Tyler Bill 105, Nathan Stifter 118, Logan Crewther 143, Jacob Espeseth 114, Thomas Gustin 135
Crosby-Ironton results: Cayden Turk 80, Casey Finnerty 78, Colten Turk 78, Joe Stokman 81, Frank Meyer 92, Will Meyer 97
Pequot Lakes results: Tyler Seeling 77, Henry Neva 73, Luke Tangen 91, Brodie Olson 79, Ben Golden 80, Brendan Brill 99
Pine River-Backus results: Brady Raph 73, Keenan Dah 81, Tyler DeGrote 88, Brady Bristow 86, Joe Zaczkowski 98
Staples-Motley results: Beck Erholtz 82, Finn Erholtz, 76 Jack Benson 93, Adam Oberlander 94, Alex Giza 91, Jack Adamietz 105
Wadena-Deer Creek results: Kade Woods 94, Cole Woods 90
Final conference standings: 1-Pequot Lakes 182.5, Crosby-Ironton 175, Staples-Motley 158.5, Pine River-Backus 121, Aitkin 65.5, Wadena-Deer Creek 21
Mid-Minn All-Conference honors: (Top 7) 1-Beck Erholtz, 2-Brady Raph, 3-Tyler Seeling, 4-Sam Sadlowsky, 5-Colten Turk, 6-Cayden Turk, 7-Finn Erholtz
Monday winner: PR-B's Brady Raph and Pequot's Henry Neva each shot 73
Season champ: Staples-Motley's Beck Erholtz
Team winner: Pequot Lakes wins with 400
Season team winner: Pequot Lakes
Next: Aitkin hosts Pierz at Cuyuna Rolling Hills in Deerwood 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 21; Pequot Lakes in Warrior Invite at Cragun's Legacy Courses 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, May 22; Crosby-Ironton, Staples-Motley in Brainerd Invite at Grand View Lodge's Preserve in Pequot Lakes 9 a.m. Thursday, May 23; Pine River-Backus in Section 6-1A at Lakeside Golf Course in Perham May 29-30.