Boys Golf: Tigers improved to the final swing
The 2018 boys golf season went by like a blur, with the New Richmond squad seemingly playing three to four matches every week once winter loosened its grip on the area.
The Tigers came together quickly, becoming the Middle Border Conference championship team. They moved up to the Division 1 level for the WIAA tournaments, where juniors Blake Peterson and Max Davis qualified for the sectional tournament.
They played that sectional tournament last Tuesday at the Stevens Point Country Club. Both Tigers played quite respectably, with Peterson shooting an 84 and Davis and 87.
Both of the Tigers had some trouble navigating the front nine at Stevens Point, with Peterson making the turn at 45 and Davis at 46. They both were far better on the back nine. Peterson was 1-over-par and Davis was 3-over heading into the 18th hole. That hole was nightmarish for many golfers, and it bit both of the Tigers, as both took double bogeys on the hole. Peterson still finished with a back nine 39, and Davis a 41.
Tiger coach Neal Ziller praised the way both New Richmond players got over any nerves they showed on the front nine to prove their true abilities on the back. He said both Tigers drive the ball extremely long, which sets them up for success. With four of the five varsity players set to return next season, plus a number of talented junior varsity players, Ziller thinks the Tigers can be more of a contender in Division 1 next season.
"These guys are definitely on the upswing," Ziller said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we're 10 strokes better next season."
The top seniors the Tigers lose this season are Alex Nutzmann and Kyler Bengtson. Freshmen Owen Covey and Mike Benedict spent most of the season on the varsity. Ziller said he expects them to have more matured coordination next season, and he expects their golf knowledge to continue to grow as well.
Reaching the state tournament as the team is a goal that Ziller is setting. He said the best way to do that is to have five players who can score in the 70s. That's what Eau Claire Memorial did in winning the sectional tournament this year. Ziller said he thinks if the Tigers can get three players shooting in the 70s at the sectional next year, their chances are very good to get to the state tournament.
The Tigers issued their team awards at their annual team banquet this Tuesday. Peterson earned two of the varsity awards. Peterson was named Most Valuable Player for the varsity, and he had the top team average of 42.23. Davis was voted as the Most Consistent Player.
For the junior varsity, Covey was named Rookie of the Year. Ben Popovich was named The Hardest Worker. The Most Improved Player went to Merrick Schulz, who dropped his nine-hole average by 10 strokes during the season.