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Wildcat golfers excited about State meet

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HARTINGTON — After qualifying as a team at last week’s D-2 District Golf Meet at Twin Creek Golf Course in Pender, the Hartington-Newcastle golf team was set to take the 270-mile trip across Nebraska for the Class D State Golf Championships at Lake Maloney Golf Course in North Platte May 23 and 24.

The Wildcats punched a ticket to North Platte after finishing third in the team scoring at Twin Creek and the entire team is looking forward to the experience.

“Three of our guys have been there before so they know what to expect,” Wildcat co-coach Ken Kneifl said. “All of our guys have experience on the big stage in one activity or another and they all really compete.”

The coach’s thoughts were evident at the district meet when lead golfer, Dayton Sudbeck, responded from an opeing nine hole score of 49, to shoot a 39 the second time around to end up with an 88.

“We had three or four guys shoot better the second nine,” Kneifl said. “It didn’t really surprise me - I know how they think.”

HNS has steadily improved over the season, which also shows the team’s willingness to buckle down and put in the work.

“We have really worked hard on our games from 100 yards away to the green,” Kneifl said. “And they have gotten a lot better the last few weeks - they really focused on that.”

The team planned to head out early and get in some practice at Lake Maloney, which will help the players understand the nuances of the 18-hole layout.

“They have a lot of native grass out there if you miss the fairway off the tee box,” the coach said. “And the roughs are, well, rough, we need to be straight on our drives - it’ll be fun.”

The Wildcat coaches also realize how important it is for the golf program to get the entire team to state.

“Oh, it’s huge for us,” co-coach Mike Johnson said. “The younger kids are taking notice that the golf program is having some success and it makes them want to play golf and be involved in the program when they’re in high school.”

Although a business trip at heart, Kneifl is looking forward to the entire team getting away together and enjoying each other.

“There’s no doubt, we’re going down there to compete,” Kneifl said. “But it’s just fun when the team and the families all hang out for few days together with no distractions, other than the golf.”

The tournament was set to tee off at 9 a.m. both days.