State Golf: Two teams with no expectations but strong history to compete
18 area athletes to compete in the Class 2A and 1A State Golf Tournaments.
Glen Hasselberg figured he’d be going to state more so as a grandfather than a coach.
If anyone was a shoo-in to advance to the Class 2A State Tournament June 15-16 at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan it was Staples-Motley senior Beck Eholtz who dominated the Section 6-2A field for his third section individual title.
But much to the delight of Erholtz he’s not going alone. The Staples-Motley Cardinals team also advanced despite a team that features three eighth-graders, a sophomore and fellow senior Adam Oberlander.
But S-M isn’t the only sorta surprise. The Pequot Lakes Patriots girls team also advanced and they only have five players, four of which are sophomores or younger.
“Not a lot of expectations with the year off and everything,’ Pequot head coach Savannah Smith said. “We wanted to come in and have these girls play at their fullest potential. We just wanted to take it one day at a time and one shot at a time and try and put 100% effort into everything we do. Whether that’s in practice or at a tournament that was our approach to this year.”
Erholtz will be the individual to watch as the North Dakota State University recruit won all but a handful of tournaments this season. He never finished out of the top five in any tournament. He shot a two-day 140 in the Section 6-2A tournament to win by nine strokes.
“With any course, there’s positives and negatives,” S-M head coach Glen Hasselberg said. “He’s got serious length and a lot of those par 5s are relatively short holes for him. But he has to keep the ball in front of him. If you have the ball going sideways and you’re playing out of the trees then it’s a different deal. There are some challenging holes there and it will be interesting to see how he manages his game.”
By his standards, Erholtz struggled as a sophomore during the 2019 state tournament. He tied for 27th with a two-day 159. He opened with an 81, which would be his highest round of the year this year.
As a freshman, Erholtz tied for 14th with a 149.
“The closest thing to a high round was when we played the Pre-section 6-2A tournament at Blackberry Ridge back in late April,” Hasselberg said. “I think he threw up a 79 if my memory serves me right and that was tied for third. From that point forward it was pretty rock solid.”
Also advancing from Section 6 will be Pequot Lakes junior Tyler Seeling, who was the main thorn in Erholtz’s side all year long. Seeling shot a two-day 156 to place third individually and lead the Patriots to second place. This will be Seeling’s second state trip. Making his inaugural voyage to the state tournament will be Pierz Pioneers’ Lance Otremba. The Junior finished sixth individually with a two-day 159.
S-M’s Carter White was the No. 2 scorer for the Cardinals with a two-day 163. The eighth grader was followed by fellow eighth grader Grant Bestland, Oberlander, eighth-grader Peyton Mithun and sophomore Isaiah Schultz.
“There’s no substitute for experience,” Hasselberg said. “This is certainly going to fit into the category of a very educational, learning experience for these younger guys. We hope Adam has a good start and a good finish to his round. Adam can be really good. The kid is right on the edge. He shot 76 at Deacon’s Lodge so he’s obviously got the skills. We hope it blossoms at the state tournament.
“I don’t think it’s a secret nor do I want to crush anybody's butterflies, but I don’t believe we’re a state championship team. That’s not a knock on anybody, but my gosh to do what we’ve done. To get where we are at, we are tickled pink and nobody is happier than Beck.”
On the girls’ side, Maddie Pederson fired a two-day 172 to lead the Patriots. Pederson is the lone senior on Pequot’s young squad. She was third individually at the section meet. Sitting in fourth was teammate Morgan Krieger. The sophomore fired a 177. Freshman Annie Neva was eight with a 183 and eighth grader Genevieve Birkeland was 14th in her first-ever section meet. Freshman Charlee Sullivan rounded out the roster with a 25th-place 208.
“Honestly, they do have the potential to shoot really low and we would love to see it happen at the state tournament,” Smith said. “If it does great. If it doesn’t then we have something to look forward to next year.
“Just over the season watching them make those small improvements and a lot of them have had their personal bests so that’s really exciting.”
Smith believes Blackberry Ridge is a similar course to the Ridges and Sand Creek which will help as this will be the first time playing the course for many of her players. She did say a few girls walked the course back in 2015 when Pequot last played in the state tournament.
“This last week we just kept everything light,” Smith said. “It’s been really hot so we’re just trying to make it more fun, but also working on pressure situations. We made it to state, which is the hardest part. Now we can just go out and try our hardest and see what happens. We’re just having fun. It’s a whole new world down there. We’ll be playing against teams that we’ve never played against before so it will be good to see how we stake up.”
S-M’s Adriana Dickey was a shot away from winning the individual title. The junior fired a 170. She shot rounds of 84-86. In 2019, Dickey tied for 61st with a 192.
Teammate Ava Schneider is making her state debut. The senior placed sixth individually with a 180 in the section tournament.
“Adriana is a repeat performer as she was in state in 2019 and Ava, her game, she’s on the edge of being good,” Hasselberg said. “It’s unfortunate that she’s going to leave us as a senior because she’s going in the right direction. If she would have had last year that would have been another year’s experience of playing in good tournaments.”
And rounding out the Class 2A state participant list will be Pierz junior Emily Virnig who finished seventh with a two-day 182.
Hannah Barchus will return and Joseph Zaczkowski will make his state debut at the Class 1A State Tournament June 15-16 at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker.
The Pine River-Backus duo played in the Section 6-1A Tournament to advance. Zaczkowski fired a 172 to finish fifth. The sophomore shot rounds of 89-83.
Barchus posted a 204 to place eighth. This will be the sophomore’s second trip to state. As an eighth grader in 2019, she fired a 54th-place 205.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop .
Class 2A State Tournament
When: 7:30 a.m. girls tee off, noon boys tee off June 15-16
Where: Ridges at Sand Creek, Jordan
Boys: Staples-Motley Cardinals team, Pequot Lakes’ Tyler Seeling, Pierz’s Lance Otremba
Girls: Pequot Lakes Patriots team, Staples-Motley’s Adriana Dickey and Ava Schneider, Pierz’s Emily Virnig
Class 1A State Tournament
When: 7:30 a.m. girls tee off, noon boys tee off June 15-16
Where: Pebble Creek Golf Club, Becker
Who: Pine River-Backus’ Hannah Barchus and Joseph Zaczkowski