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Laker boys' golf trails Staples-Motley by five strokes after first round

Detroit Lakes senior Austin Rusness shot a three-over par 74 during the first day of the Class 2A state boys' golf meet. Senior teammate Karter Smith also shot a 74, as the Lakers trail Staples-Motley by five strokes in pursuit of their third-straight state title at the Ridges at Sand Creek Golf Course in Jordan.

Looking for their third Class 2A state championship in a row, the Detroit Lakes boys’ golf team will once again have to grind it out on day two at the Ridges of Sand Creek Golf Course in Jordan come Wednesday morning.

The Lakers will enter the final day of the state meet five strokes down on Section 6-2A champion Staples-Motley, which shot a 294 to DL’s 299.

It’s a position the Lakers are used to, but so are the Cardinals, which have finished in third place the last two years by a combined 10 strokes from first place.

“We are tickled with the results today,” said Staples-Motley head coach Glen Hasselberg. “Tomorrow, we just want to keep playing how we played today, because any team can catch fire and win it.”

The two teams at the top of the leaderboard both reside in the Mid-State Conference, so they are no strangers to each other.

“We knew coming in Staples-Motley was going to be good,” said DL head coach Bob Gorden. “They had a very good day, but we also shot a 299, which is the lowest we’ve ever shot on the first day. It still wasn’t our best and the guys know they left a lot of shots out on the course.”

The Cardinals were paced by freshman Andrew Israelson, who carded a one-under par 71, while teammate senior Mitch Hagenson fired an even par 72, followed by senior Trent Hagenson’s 74 and junior Dakota Waverek’s 77.

Playing in their fourth state tournament, seniors Austin Rusness and Karter Smith each shot a three-over par 74. They were followed by sophomores Christian Hedstrom with a 75 and Ben Mallow with a 76, who were each making their state meet debut.

Other DL scores included junior Michael Herzog’s 78 and sophomore Tanner Schnathorst’s 84.

Rusness started off relaxed by shooting for birdie on the opening hole, while sinking birds on seven and nine for a front nine score of 33.

But a 40 on the back nine left Rusness with a three-over par 74, after being two under after hole 12.

“I started off well, striking the ball pure, but my back nine I was kind of unlucky,” Rusness said. “Now, we just need to come back tomorrow and play our game and not worry about what the other teams shoot.”

Smith, who finished as the Class 2A state individual runner-up the last two years, felt he shot well, but his game could have been better.

“I’m not disappointed, but I had to grind a bit today,” Smith said. “I ended well by going up and down on 17, then finished with a birdie on 18.”

The Lakers had to rely on their depth again Tuesday to stay within striking distance of Staples-Motley, with each of Hedstrom’s and Mallow’s scores counting in their first state meet.

Hedstrom settled in early by making birdie on the first hole, while making par on the second. He finished with a total of six birdies in the round for his 75, including two straight birdies to start the back nine.

“I felt a bit of pressure coming into the state, but I was able to hit some spots on the course,” Hedstrom said. “I was hoping to play two solid days and have my scores count, so playing well today was a big relief.”

Gorden commended his two sophomores for coming up big in their state debuts, but he wasn’t too surprised, either.

“Both Ben and Christian played well and brought it back after a bad hole or two, that just shows how good our depth is,” Gorden said. “Yes, we are a little disappointed we didn’t play our best, but like I always have said, you can’t lose it on day one.

“But our players know what it takes, since between Mike, Austin and Karter, they’ve played this course 19 times and eight times competitively. They’ll be ready tomorrow.”

But the Cardinals will also be ready to protect their lead, after coming up short by six shots to DL last year and four the year before.

“That’s 10 shots over the last two years, that’s not much of a gap from third to first place,” Hasselberg said. “We feel we will be one of the teams right there at the end.”

Litchfield is in third place with a 304, while Delano senior Jordan Peters is the first-day medalist after shooting a three-under par 69.

The Lakers and Staples-Motley will start their tee times Wednesday morning at 8:15 a.m. at the Ridges at Sand Creek.

Laker results - Class 2A state boys’ meet at Ridges at Sand Creek Golf Course in Jordan, Tuesday, June 11

Day One team scores: Staples-Motley 294, Detroit Lakes 299, Litchfield 304, Marshall 311, Hermantown 312, Blake 315, Rochester Lourdes 318, New Ulm 321

Top 7 individuals: Jordan Peters (Delano) 34-35-69; Matt Bennett (Marshall) 35-36-71; Andrew Israelson (SM) 33-38-71; Mitch Hagenson (SM) 35-37-72; Aaron Leintz (Bagley) 36-36-72; Josh Kummerfeldt (Waseca) 35-37-72; Lucas McCormick (Breck) 34-38-72

Laker Day One results: Karter Smith 38-36-74; Austin Rusness 34-40-74; Christian Hedstrom 40-35-75; Ben Mallow 37-39-76; Michael Herzog 38-40-78; Tanner Schnathorst 41-43-84

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.