KEARNEY — It was a mixed bag of results during this year’s high school golf season and the state tournaments were no departure from that.
Cedar Catholic, Hartington-Newcastle and Randolph all headed to the final week of the season with high hopes and in some ways they were met, and in others they might have hoped for more.
Regardless, it all meant a time to remember for a myriad of reasons.
The Trojans had designs on a push for a top state finish in Class C, but settled for an eighth-place spot after a rough first day at Kearney.
Senior Riley Kuehn, who had hopes of claiming a state title that eluded him in previous years, finished seventh overall.
“Finishing eighth is a little bit of a disappointment to the team,” Cedar head coach Rick Kuehn said. “We just weren’t used to the greens and placement on our second and third shots. The course was set up very tough, especially the greens. If you were above the hole and tried to lag your putt, you would end up five, six or seven feet beyond the hole,” he said. “We are just not used to that.”
Riley Kuehn (85), Cazden Christensen (90), Jay Steffen (92) and Carsen Becker (95) all played at the Kearney Country Club and scored for the Trojans on the first day, and rallied a bit to go 78-89- 95-96 respectively the next day of play to make a push for a higher spot.
“The coaches are very proud of the team. They battled the course and got a lot better on the third and fourth rounds,” Rick Kuehn said. “They understand that it takes a lot to get to state and there are very good teams there. Unfortunately, it wasn’t our turn.”
Despite the rough finish to the campaign, the Trojans coach saw the season as one to cherish.
“The season as a whole was very rewarding for the kids,” Rick Kuehn said. “The thing that impressed us coaches the most is how our kids got better throughout the season and understood the game so much more, than when they first started. I would like to thank our seniors Mack, Riley and Carsen for the leadership they provided for our younger kids throughout the year.
“We have a good group of kids returning for next season and the future looks bright. It will be up to them though to get out and golf on their own.”
The Wildcats wrapped up 2021 with a 10th place finish at the Class C finals with a two-day score of 796.
Individually Turner Dendinger placed tied for 34th with a 179 and was followed by Reece Morten (T-43rd, 187), Dayton Sudbeck (210), Carson Jones (222) and Riley Sudbeck’s 228 that didn’t account in the final team score.
“Overall, coach Mike Johnson and I were pleased with things at state,” HNS coach Ken Kneifl said. “This was a very young and inexperienced team. We do not have a senior, so these kids getting to state and experiencing all that is the state tournament should be nothing but helpful as this group continues to grow.
“I don’t know that there were any lows, unless it would be several of the rough patches all of the kids experienced in terms of simply avoiding big numbers on several holes. That’s going to happen though, when you have an inexperienced team on a course that is difficult. We were proud of the effort the kids put forth in those times of struggle.”
Like his Cedar Catholic counterpart, Kneifl saw this spring as one with much more solid memories to hold on to.
“We struggled at times, played very well at times, but we grew throughout the season,” he said. “This was also a team that really got along and supported each other well. It was a fun team to coach. Reece Morten came into our season as the only player with any high school golf experience what-so-ever. Reece ended the season with our lowest stroke average and in many ways grew as a leader within our team. He set the tone for our team with his work ethic. Turner Dendinger really played well at the end of the season. Only a sophomore, Turner is very talented and works hard.
“Dayton Sudbeck is only a freshman. Dayton medaled in two meets this year. He works hard and is so coachable. His future is very bright. Our other three players really had not played much, if any golf, until this season. Carson Jones is a junior and Riley Sudbeck is a freshman and what they did this season is fairly remarkable. Carson really struggled at the beginning of the season but improved throughout the season and really became a player we could count on. As far as Riley is concerned he hits the ball really well. He has only played for two months. Once he becomes more consistent and becomes good at the short game, he is going to be really good. All that comes along with playing more. Mason Buschkamp also is new to the game, but he improved throughout. He is an absolutely great young man to have on the team. He has a great attitude. We are going to count on him in the future.”
Kneifl also noted that the addition of Johnson to the program was a boon for the Wildcats.
“MJ relates to the kids so well,” Kneifl said. “Without question, things are trending upward and we look forward to next season.”
The Cardinals and head coach Rob Engel finished 13th in Class D behind the official scoring of Collyn Beal (187), Tyson Junck (203), Bryson Eledge (213) and Tristan Mosel (229).
Brayden Shearer also made the trip to Kearney for the Cardinals.
“It was a great accomplishment just to qualify the team for state,” Engel said. “We struggled at times during the year, but we always believed that if we could put it all together on district day we would have a chance. The guys competed well.”
A school trip to Washington, D.C. well in advance to the tournament took the Cardinals usual No. 3 or 4 golfer, Andy Hausman out of the picture along with three other linksters, but Shearer stepped up to put up his best to fill void.
“It was his first real varsity meet and he did a good job,” Engel said. “The whole season we were just grateful to be able to play after last year, we would struggle with consistency, Tyson was probably our most consistent player, he medaled at a number of meets and Collyn really turned it on the last four meets or so, even winning at Ponca. Bryson improved all year long and found his game as the season went on, and Tristan picked it up as well and stepped into the fifth spot.”
Men’s Golf League
May 25, 2021
1 M.Grindvold/L.Hansen/B.Hefner 44
2 B.Penlerick/M.Miller/P.Nelson 40
3 B.Hochstein/M.Arens/O.Dresden 35
4 R.Bowman/C.Brodersen/G.Yunker 34
5 S.Janssen/K.Hefner/M.Olsen 30
6 J.Knaak/S.Martini/L.Brown 29
7 M.Hahne/S.Dirks/C.Kleinschmit 28
8 R.Kuehn/C.Christensen/R.Lammers 22
9 K.Hammer/J.Bartling/G.Miller 22
10 N.Puppe/Tr.Kalin/M.Rose 22
11 To.Kalin/C.Kalin/B.Kalin 21
12 A.Smith/R.Howell/Bill Lauer 21
13 G.Howell/J.Leapley/G.Burns 20
14 R.Lindquist/D.Benson/J.Litel 19
15 R.Benson/J.Hoffart/D.Engelman 18
16 L.Jansen/C.Jansen/A.Swanson 17
17 R.Hall/H.Walter/M.Biltoft 17
18 J.Wolfe/T.Burbach/M.Papenhausen 15
19 Bob Lauer/B.Eickhoff/M.Buechler 14
20 R.Becker/J.Kaiser/N.Pelan 12
Low Individual Scratch: A: Kelly Hammer 38; B: Steve Martini 41; C: Bill Hefner 42
Low Individual Net: A: Jay Knaak 33.5; B: Travis Kalin 34; C: Bill Hefner/Bill Leapley 32
Low Team Scratch: J.Knaak/S.Martini/L. Brown 127
Low Team Net: J.Knaak/S.Martini/L.Brown 106.5
The Cedar Catholic Booster Club is holding a nine-hole four-person Best Ball Tournament June 26. Contact Kaly Rutar, 402-841-5662, or Laura Stewart, 605-695-0126 for more information.
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